As October approaches, it brings with it the idea of cooler weather, warmer clothes, pumpkins, apples, and all things fall. While the weather may dictate a lot of things in Owensboro, for nearly 35 years, the Reid’s Orchard Apple Festival has been the event that officially kicks off the season for so many.
After cancelling the 2020 Apple Festival due to public concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Reid family excitedly announced that the Apple Festival will be making its return the weekend of October 16 and 17, 2021.
Apple Festival Coordinator Kathy Reid, said the orchard has only had to cancel the festival twice before, due to excessive rain.
“We planned on having it last year, but cancelled after the Kentucky State Fair cancelled,” Reid said. “We were concerned about the safety of our employees, ourselves, the vendors and the public.”
Although the Reid family is hard at work preparing to accommodate the over 20,000 people anticipated to attend this year’s Apple Festival, they are also cautiously optimistic, given recent COVID-19 and Delta variant numbers.
“Part of me says people are going to want to get out and people are going to flock here, and it’s going to be a big one,” Reid said. “But with COVID spiking back up, I’m just not sure what’s going to happen. I’m curious how long Daviess County will be in the red. We’re still planning on having it as long as everything stays the same.”
Steeped in tradition, the core of the Apple Festival has stayed the same over the years, but the events and activities have grown with the times and the families that attend. After being inspired by friends in 1986 to create a fall festival in a farm setting, the Reids designed a small festival of their own, named after one of their largest crops, and composed of just 20 outdoor craft booths and a few indoor food vendors.
Over the years, there have been additional activities added for children and families, including live music, carnival rides, pony rides, a petting zoo and the Reidland play area. This year, there are approximately 100 craft vendors and 20 food booths expected, offering a little something for everyone.
“When we started this, our youngest was 18 months and our oldest was five, so we definitely had family in mind,” Reid said. “The husbands can sit and listen to the music; the wives can go shopping and the kids can go play.”
For the first time attendee
“For those that have never been, I would say come hungry,” Reid said. “That’s the biggest thing; there’s all kinds of food booths. Everybody wants to eat and it’s hard to choose what you want to eat because there’s so many good things. And there’s always some very interesting crafts. We have some very talented vendors that come to the apple festival.”
For the dedicated attendee
“It’s always just a fun time to come and meet people and see people you haven’t seen,” Reid said. “And they still come back for the food. Some people come back for the crafts and the vendors; I have some vendors that have been here almost since we started.”
Fan and family favorites
“We have a booth we run called a caramel apple sundae,” Reid said. “We take apples and put them on a little machine and curl them accordion style, then cut them up and put caramel on them and add nuts if desired. That would have to be my favorite.”
Kathy said, over the years, various members of her husband Billy’s family could be seen cutting up apples for the close to 3,000 caramel apple sundaes they serve each year. Now, they rely on other family members and volunteers to create a one-of-a-kind experience for the public.
“In the past we’ve had a lot of people that just come volunteer to work,” Kathy said. “It’s been a fun time having family members and different people help us — without those people we just wouldn’t be able to do this.”
When asked if she thought cancelling last year’s event would affect this year’s attendance at all, Kathy was hopeful.
“I really think it will exceed that [20,000] this year, if we continue to have it,” Reid said. “I expect more younger people and I expect this to be a high attendance year, unless COVID is rearing its ugly head at us at that time.”