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Farmers market, Main Street events, apple sales highlight Labor Day weekend

Apple growers hope to attract a lot of U-pick visitors this year. Apple growers hope to attract a lot of U-pick visitors this year.

Throngs of local folks and visitors on Main Street. Jammed up roads. $5 parking. A wait at restaurants. No vacancy at hotels. The All American small town King Apple Parade. That's the usual Labor Day weekend. This year, thanks to the coronavirus, is very different. But the star of the North Carolina Apple Festival, the crisp, sweet, delicious apple, is widely available close to where it's grown and downtown Hendersonville has plans for a festive day even with no festival.

While the traditional street fair, entertainment, kiddie rides, apple slushies, roasted turkey legs and parade won't happen, roadside stands and U-pick orchards are stepping up their game to lure apple buyers to the farm.

“A number of our growers are going to be doing special things on their sites,” said David Nicholson, the executive director of the N.C. Apple Festival. “Of my 14 growers, six always have a roadside stand of some type. Many are adding food trucks, they’re adding arts and crafts and some are having children’s events.”
People interested in checking out special events can visit and see a schedule of special events for each day of the Labor Day weekend Friday through Monday.
While the Apple Festival website focuses on the 14 growers that usually have stands at the festival, the Tourism Development Authority is promoting the Crest of the Blue Ridge Orchard Trail that promotes 21 direct marketing sites across Henderson County.

“We decided we would promote the ones we have a close working relationship with,” Nicholson said. “We’re glad they’re doing that but we felt like our responsibility was first to our local growers” who lost the Apple Festival revenue they’re accustomed to.

Orchard Trail Days

The TDA’s Orchard Trail Days, which officially kicks off Friday, runs through the entire harvest season. During the weekend many orchards will be offering crafts, family fun activities such as corn mazes, apple cannons, inflatables, wagon rides, food trucks and tours.
Henderson County is the largest apple-producing county in North Carolina, the seventh largest grower in the U.S. Henderson County growers produce 85 percent of North Carolina’s apple crop, generating about $30 million to the local economy.
Some of the earlier varieties harvested in Henderson County include Ginger Gold, Gala, Fuji, Jonagold and the popular Honey Crisp. In addition, a number of other fall varieties come in later October include Pink Lady, Granny Smith, Staymen, Winesap and Cameo. The taste of the fruit varies depending on the kind of apple ranging from sweet or tart.

Fresh apples, pumpkins, cider, produce, baked goods, jellies, honey and other items may be purchased at the various roadside apple markets and produce stands throughout Henderson County (see map on Page 12). Some farms also operate U-pick orchards with wagon rides, bakeries, food trucks and other attractions. Orchard Trail Days will follow federal and state mandated guidelines for cleaning, social distancing and limiting crowd size.
Pick up a copy of the self-guided Crest of the Blue Ridge Orchard Trail brochure at the Visitor Center, 201 S. Main St., or download one at

Kiwanis Club keeps pancake tradition alive


The Kiwanis Club of Hendersonville will kick off its centennial year during the 2020 North Carolina Apple Festival with a special “pancake breakfast to go” giveaway to members of the city’s workforce, Henderson County Rescue Squad and the community at large.
The Club has traditionally held a Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser on the Friday before Labor Day to kick off the annual Apple Festival in downtown Hendersonville, but in light of covid-19 restrictions the festival board called off the street fair and other downtown events. The Kiwanis Club decided to continue its commitment to kids and the community by offering a pre-packaged breakfast to go at no charge to the community.
“We had already planned to make the 2020 Pancake Breakfast available at no charge to the community who has supported our club throughout the years in honor of our 100th anniversary,” said immediate past president of the club Erika McGilley. “Once we realized having an in-person event would not be possible this year, we formed a committee to create something special that would honor our pancake tradition and serve as a fun project for kids and their families.”
On Saturday, Sept. 5, Kiwanis Club members will give out the pre-assembled bags at the Hendersonville Farmers Market at the Historic Train Depot (650 Maple Street) from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on the 400 block of Main Street in downtown Hendersonville from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Each bag will contain a package of Mimi’s Pancake Mix along with a recipe card, syrup packets, fresh apples and a children’s activity. The club will also be distributing bags to the festival’s many unsung heroes in appreciation of their ongoing commitment to the community and their many years of service to the N.C. Apple Festival.

Special events downtown

Although the crowds may be smaller, Main Street and the Historic Seventh Avenue District are striving for a festive atmosphere during the first Apple Festival weekend ever held during a pandemic.
The Hendersonville Farmers Market 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at the Historic Train Depot on Maple Street features some 35 vendors selling fresh apples and apple cider slushies, produce, baked goods, prepared food and crafts. Fiddlin’ Ryn and Friends will play at the market from 9 a.m.-noon.
The city’s Open Streets weekend means Main Street is closed to vehicular traffic and outdoor activities are offered. On Saturday many downtown businesses will be giving back to local nonprofits through percentage of sales and other promotions. Businesses were encouraged to support local nonprofits and downtown neighbors impacted by recent shutdowns and closures. Partnerships include:
• Silver Fox Gallery & Team ECCO Aquarium & Shark Lab
• Vintage Photo Scan & Arts Council of Henderson County
• The Cheerful Word & Thrive
• Homestead Linens & Big Brothers Big Sisters of WNC
• Mast General Store & Habitat for Humanity
• Moonshine & Magnolias, Black Bear Coffee
• Brandy’s on Main & Hands On Children’s Museum
• Guidon Brewing & Safelite

Nonprofit partners with a display tent on Main Street include:
• Rotary Club of Hendersonville, near Wag! A Unique Pet Boutique, to support its fundraiser for CART (Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust).
• Big Brothers Big Sisters of WNC, near Homestead, promoting an online auction that replaces the nonprofit’s annual Taste of the Vineyard fundraiser.
• Team ECCO Shark Lab & Aquarium, hosting mermaid and critter meet and greets, arts and crafts and other outdoor activity.
• The Sun Earth Universe NASA Space Exhibit, opening this weekend, sponsored by Team ECCO Shark Lab & Aquarium, at the former Shelley’s Jewelry space, 429 N. Main St.
Other activities:
• Live music in the 200 block: Fiddlin’ Ryn & Friends, 2-4 p.m.; Myron Hyman 5-7 p.m.
• Free outdoor fitness in the 400 block includes Yoga with YMCA at 8:30 a.m. (bring your own mat) and Sit Step Sing Chair Fitness at 10:30 a.m. (bring your own chair).
• Guidon Brewing Co. hosts a “mini Apple Festival” Saturday and Sunday with vendors and music.