An article posted under ONLY IN YOUR STATE in September of this year says the first Lincoln County Apple Festival in 1972 had an attendance of a thousand people. That's not true; I know, I was there. We may have had a few hundred people attend.
That first Lincoln County Apple Festival grew from a discussion with Extension Agent Howard Waynick, who had been to the North Carolina Apple Festival in Hendersonville that year and since Lincoln County was at that time (we're not now) the second largest producer of apples of any NC county, he wanted to know if we could start something like that here.
We had a meeting at the Extension office with George Stoudemire, David Choate, Melinda Smith (Houser), and Dot Johnson. Melinda had been involved with a strawberry festival in a previous location she had worked so she was put in charge of most of what was involved in that first Apple Festival which was held in the Fellowship Hall of Boger City United Methodist Church. Howard arranged to have several apple growers on hand to sell apples (and give away some to those who attended). I served as the first chairman of the Apple Festival Committee from 1982 until 1988. It was largely a Cooperative Extension project until 2014. Their major involvement now involves work with the Extension & Community Association (fried apple pie sales and the Apple Dish Contest) and with apple growers. On festival day, they sponsored an Ag City section in 2016-2018, but that isn't being done this year.
Most of what was involved in that first Apple Festival was cooking. Apple pie slices were given away, pies and fried pies were sold. Outside, we had an old washpot with a fire making apple butter. The fire started smoking and the wind was blowing toward Main Street, so somebody called the Boger City Fire Dept. and told them the church was on fire. It wasn't, of course.
The Apple Festival was held one more year in Boger City; then it moved to the National Guard Armory for two years. It grew in attendance and to make it possible to have more displays and add food sales, it was moved to West Lincoln High School. Finally, it made its way to downtown Lincolnton.
While this is the 50th anniversary of the festival, it's not the 50th festival. One was canceled in the early 1990s because a hurricane was expected to send some rain our way (we didn't expect to get a serious storm, just a rainy day). On Saturday, the weather started out cloudy but changed to mixed sunshine and clouds later and many questioned why there was no Apple Festival, but the decision had to be made on Thursday and it was canceled.
Another rainy day caused a cancellation of the festival in 2018, but it was rescheduled for October. Through 2017 the Apple Festival had always been held on the third Saturday in September. Sometimes, September weather was hot; so the decision was made, following the 2018 festival, to move it to October in future years. It was held in October 2019--but then came the pandemic and no festival in 2020 or last year.
The festival officially begins at 9 AM and lasts until 4 PM, but one regular event will happen earlier; the Rotary Apple Festival 5K and Fun Run beginning and ending at Lincolnton High School will be at 8 AM Saturday.
There'll be entertainment on two stages--one on the Courtsquare and the other on Cedar Street at the corner of E. Main & Cedar (next to the Fifth Third Bank parking lot and across from the Cultural Center).
Porta potties will be available for those needing them, and you can also use the rest rooms at the Cultural Center, which will be open from 9 - 3. They'll be giving small pumpkins for decorating to the first 200 kids who visit the Cultural Center on Saturday; you can decorate them there or take them home to decorate.
You can also use the rest rooms in the lobby of the Citizens Center. The Lincoln County Public Libary will be having its annual book sale there--Thursday 4 - 8 pm for members of the Friends of the Library only; Friday 10 - 4 and Saturday 9 - 4 for everyone.
A big part of the Apple Festival is food, and there'll be plenty. Until a few years ago, only local churches, clubs, schools, etc. were allowed to have food booths, but now other vendors including food trucks are allowed. They do, however, have to contribute a portion of what they make to a local charitable cause. Ice cream, cotton candy, kettle corn, Chinese food, Mexican and other Latin American food will be available; and local restaurants will also be open.
Also happening this weekend is the first of two weekends of performances of "Little Shop of Horrors" by the Lincoln Theatre Guild. You can see it Friday or Saturday at 7 PM or Sunday afternoon at 2 at the Cultural Center. [See separate article HERE.]
We'll have more about the Apple Festival in another article on Friday.