Apple Festival gets under way in Nappanee
Apple Fest draws 80,000 people to city on U.S. 6
Its slogan might be “Embrace the Pace,” but things are about to pick in the city of Nappanee.
Bracing for the 46th annual Nappanee Apple Festival from Sept. 15-18, organizers are putting the final touches on an event that features carnival rides, vendors, entertainment, a parade, car show, and much more.
“We finish one festival, figure out the good, the bad, and the ugly, and start over again,” Core Committee Director Donna Persing said about the event that draws about 80,000 people a year.
Pie of the city’s eye
One of the things that’s always in the “good” category is the apple-inspired goodies. While there will be plenty of apple dumplings, fritters, cider, and pie to go around, there’s one pie that stands out.
“The 7-foot apple pie,” Persing deadpanned when asked the festival’s biggest draw.
Prior to festivities beginning at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 15, Persing says eight women gather at Don Carlos Bar & Grill, which used to house a bakery. There, they’ll receive a 100-pound pie pan, 450 pounds of filling, and another 100 pounds of crust. After a few hours, about 10 people from the street and fire departments will arrive to move the gargantuan thing into the oven, which, of course, requires a removable wall to be, well, removed.
Once it’s moved safely into the brick oven, it will cook an hour before the oven is shut off, a fan is put inside, and it bakes overnight.
In the morning, 10 more people show up to take it out of the oven about 7:30 a.m., then it is placed by the downtown window, then cut up and sold at the restaurant, as well as the Napple Store, down the street, producing about 1,000 pieces.
“It’s usually gone by Saturday afternoon,” Persing said.
Persing says the pie, which contained about 882 medium apples last year, has received nationwide attention.
“It’s a big draw,” she said. “People come and take pictures, post it all over social media. We had friends call us one year, and they were watching it in Las Vegas.”
If the pie isn’t enough to draw you in, there’s also the carnival, more than 170 commercial and craft exhibitors, 20 food vendors, and three entertainment stages, where the trampoline troupe Flippenout will have numerous shows.
Away from downtown, there will be plane rides and a car show at the airport, as well as Antique Power Show at The Barns, formerly Amish Acres.
The parade, which will shut down a section of U.S. 6, begins at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday.
Core of the festival
While there’s so much going on, it can get your head spinning, but at the core of the festival is apples.
Miller’s Orchard has deep roots in the festival, as it was operated by Harley and Mary Miller, whose son, Maynard, is now on the committee, as is his granddaughter, Nikki Beer.
And if you prefer your apples raw, there will be plenty of bins scattered around the festival.
“The orchard will put those out, and keep them full, and it’s a 50-cent donation for an apple,” Persing said.