D. GARY DAVIS
Apple Festival Signals the Arrival of Autumn
The days are getting shorter, there’s a nip in the air, the trees are beginning to paint the landscape with a rainbow of colors and it’s football time in Tennessee. These are clear signs that it’s the beginning of harvest and fall festival time in Bradley County.
The festival season got under way on Saturday September 14th in Charleston with the nation’s only Cowpea Festival which celebrates the area’s unique agricultural history. "Cowpea” is the general name for the Crowder pea, Black-eyed pea, Cream pea, Silver-hull and other field pea varieties. The annual festival is a tribute to this simple vegetable and attracts an array of Cowpea chefs who do some amazing things with the humble bean.
Next up is the annual Apple Festival scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, October 19 and 20 on the courthouse square. This will be followed by the 26th annual Halloween Block Party on Thursday October 31.
The Cleveland Apple Festival is also a tribute to another important part of Bradley County’s agricultural heritage. Festivities will get under way Saturday morning at 10 AM, and again Sunday afternoon at 1:00 PM. Dozens of artists & craft exhibitors are expected to be on hand for the event and vendor applications are available on the Festival web site.
The festival is a family event that offers a juried art and craft show, live music, food booths, pony and hay rides, entertainment, children's activities and much more. This year, children 12 and under are invited to visit the Trailhead Bicycle Kid’s Zone where all children’s activities are free… including pony rides.
One of the most popular events is the Apple Desert Contest. Festival organizers are looking for the best homemade apple desert in the Tennessee Valley. You can get an entry form from the festival web site at www.clevelandapplefestival.org. Bring your recipe and desert to the Gazebo on the Square Saturday morning for judging between 11:15 AM and 12:30 PM. Winners will be announced from the stage at 2 PM. Submit your best apple desert and you could win the $50 grand prize or a second place prize of $25.
Also on Sunday afternoon girls between the ages of 5-12 are invited to compete for the titles of Little Miss Apple Blossom, Junior Miss Apple Blossom and Miss Apple Blossom. Each contestant will need to dress in their best farm or country girl outfit. Judging will be based on costume, personality and presentation. Sign-in is at 3:30 PM, dress rehearsal and judge’s chat is at 4 PM with the contest at 5 PM. The 3 age divisions are: 5-7 years, 8-10 years and 11-12 years. The cost to enter is $20 for each contestant. The grand prize winner in each category will receive a $35 gift card.
The Festival is a 501(c)(3) public charity and donates all net proceeds to other non-profit organizations in Bradley County. Tickets are very reasonable and priced at $6 for a two day pass for adults and $4 for senior citizens and children.
The Courthouse Square’s largest event of the year of course is the annual block party scheduled for October 31st. This is followed by the annual Christmas parade which will wind its way around the courthouse in December as thousands line the streets for a glimpse of Old Saint Nick himself.
These Fall Festivals and other events are a part of our history and culture and contribute to our community’s quality of life. These are some of the many reasons I say… Bradley County is Tennessee at its best.