Nappanee Apple Festival – From a Patron’s POV

While I did not attend this show as a vendor, I did attend as a patron.

The Nappanee Apple Festival fell over the weekend of September 15th this year. It was perfect weather for a fall festival – crisp and cool with the smell of autumn in the air. The festival was competing with the Johnny Appleseed Festival in Ft. Wayne – I’m not sure how this impacted the attendance.

The streets were bustling with people – kids running to and from the carnival rides, adults browsing the food stands and local antique shops. They did have the police directing traffic which helped. Parking wasn’t bad – we went earlier in the day (around lunchtime) and must have just missed the parade. Streets were still closed off, which was kind of a pain. We did find really nice parking, but had to go out of our way around the town to get to it. (Later in the day it was much easier to find close parking – the Key Bank parking lot never fails! Yes, we went twice in one day…I’m just that crazy!)

Our first stop was the hardware store to use the restrooms – not a big fan of port-a-potties, although I must say the ones at the fair aren’t horrible. Shortly after, we rounded the corner and were met with the sights and sounds of a midway. Greasy foods and cotton candy filled the air, mingling with children’s screams and laughter against a background of bells and whistles. We did stop to play a game or five of Ski Ball – it’s my favorite 🙂 After winning a couple small prizes, we moved on to browse the craft booths.

I was very disappointed with the quality of vendors this year – it seems to be falling more along the lines of the Shipshewana Flea Market and less along the lines of true arts and craft festival. There were some crafty goods worth stopping to look at – my favorite booth was Berrycreek Candles (www.berrycreekcandles.etsy.com – The owner also happens to be a member of The IN Crowd – check her out!) followed by the Nappanee Apple tent featuring apple pies, dumplings, apple butter, and other apple breads and desserts. Yum! My overall opinion is that the aisles could have been a little wider to accommodate those shopping with strollers or pets in tow, and less retail items!

After dodging the other patrons, we decided it was time for lunch. The food area is not very well organized – the seating was the worst aspect. While there was a wide variety of food to choose from, it was hard to find the lines. After making a couple laps around the food court, I settled on the homemade bread bowl filled with homemade soup – Beef with Vegetable. Wow! it was well worth the $5.75 – it was huge!

We finished off our outing with a couple of stops in the antique stores – probably my favorite part of the day. If you love all things old, please do yourself a favor and stop by.

Overall, I give the festival a 7 out of 10 – the atmosphere was fun and exciting, and the food was wonderful. The parking I could deal with, and the crowd was tolerable. However, I give the craft portion a 4 out of 10 – from a patron’s point of view it was just lacking in quality and variety. I do not want to buy underwear and batteries from a craft show in the fall. I want to see pumpkins and gourds and garlands of bittersweet to drape across the mantle. I was highly disappointed in that aspect. Will I go back? you bet! Would I ever buy booth space? I don’t think so, unless I found some one to split the cost with me.

If you attended this event as a crafter, please let me know your thoughts on the show – was a good turn out for you? Did you make enough from it to want to do it again? How satisfied were you with the quality of the other vendors? Inquiring minds want to know!

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