Apple Festival Contact Numbers:
Volunteers & Sponsors – Kelly Cox – 931-456-9663 – email
Storytelling – Anne Looney Cook – 731-225-9770 – email
Antique Tractors Show – Charlie Orme – 423-533-2478
Entertainment – Joe Wyatt – email
Exhibitors – Shelia & Jim Long – 931-787-1747 – email
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How the Apple Festival Got Started
It all began as a leap of faith by C.H.T.A. Board Members in 2004 to create a wholesome, family-oriented, old-fashioned, fun-filled, fund-raising event that would help pay the expenses of operating the Homesteads Tower Museum and the Homesteads House Museum. From the beginning, the board felt it was important to include the Homesteads Elementary School in the event because of the long-standing close relationship between the historic school and the Tower Museum. The idea to tie the event to apples was a natural choice because of the many orchards that the Original Homesteaders planted and tended to help feed their families in the early days of the Homesteads. The board members pitched in with lots of energy and with the additional help of their friends and neighbors made the 1st Homesteads Apple Festival a great success.
Since then the festival has grown in size and attendance each year. New ideas are presented each year and the C.H.T.A. Board of Directors decide on which ideas will be adopted to enhance the festival. Great emphasis is placed on keeping the festival family-oriented, affordable for families and educational about our unique history. The Tower Museum is alway open during the festival and visitors can enjoy the historic exhibits on display and climb the 97 steps to the top of the Tower.
The festival also focuses on presenting quality music and crafts. Our entertainment has been one of the highlights of the festival from the very beginning. Many local talents have graced the Apple Festival stage for great, continuous music all day. But the stage has also seen some out-of-town guest performers that helped us bring in larger attendance and larger recognition as a premier event. On the stage of the 2nd Apple Festival, Grammy-winner, Amy Grant gave a concert that will always be remembered and appreciated. It was with her generous support of C.H.T.A. efforts that many doors began to open for the Homesteads Apple Festival. One of those doors was increased corporate sponsorship of the event. Our sponsor list continues to grow each year and their support has made it possible to continue adding new features to the event.
The Apple Festival Craft Show is also a reflection of the high skills of our regional artists and craftsmen. Each year the number of booths increase, but unlike so many festival craft shows, the quality of craftsmanship does not suffer with the growth of the show. While the show is not a juried show, it is well-managed with strict rules on what crafts are acceptable. This attention to the quality of crafts allowed is appreciated by the public and the craftsmen alike.
And then there’s the food! Lots of fine folks pitch in to bake homemade goodies for our huge bake sale every year. Our fresh Fried Apple Pies are the festival’s favorite food item. The high demand for fried pies keeps a host of volunteers busy all day hand-carrying the pies to our Apple Pie and Apple Cider booths as the pies arrive to the festival.
Keeping all the food booths going is a lot of hard work for our volunteers, but they faithfully come back year after year to help us sell more burgers, beans & cornbread, hot dogs and bar-b-que. The food and drink booths bring in the majority of the funds we raise during the festival.
Lastly, there is an extra day of Apple Festival that the public is largely unaware of: the day before the festival is set aside just for the students of Homesteads Elementary School. The students get to meet our craftsmen who are demonstrating appalchian heritage crafts and tour the Tower Museum for free. Before they have to go back to class they each get an apple and a glass of cold apple cider. This special day for the students has become one of the favorite days for our craftsmen who volunteer to come demonstrate their skills just for the children.
History of Apples on the Homesteads
Apples were an important food staple for the 252 families chosen to become Cumberland Homesteaders back in the 1930’s. If you drive through the historic district today, you will see that many of the farms still have old apple trees and orchards.
Many Homesteaders brought apple tree saplings from their former home-places to plant on their new farms. These heirloom varieties were usually prized for unique characteristics. Store-bought varieties were ordered from catalogs and added to the well-planned orchards. The goal was to have apples maturing, depending upon variety, from early June until the first frost.
The “June Apples” were a favorite for frying, sliced with the peelings on, in an iron skillet. A spoonful topped with fresh butter on a homemade biscuit will instantly make the memory of the past winter melt away!
Apple harvest was anticipated with great hope of a bountiful year. Preserving the harvest for the coming winter was a cheerful task, done in many ways; apples were peeled, sliced and dried in the sun on clean bed sheets, “sulfured”, made into applesauce, apple butter and preserves or simply kept whole in the cellar until needed. Every effort was made to utilize the entire harvest and “let none go to waste”.
Apple Festival is our tribute to the Original Homesteaders and their wisdom of preserving the bounty of the harvest.
C.H.T.A.’s Homesteads Apple Festival is truly a community-supported event with well over a hundred volunteers pitching in each year to make sure our visitors have a great time!
We believe this amazing volunteer effort is a testament of the strong sense of community that has always been a vital element of this unique historic community.
If you would like to volunteer to help with the festival or become one of our official Apple Festival Sponsors, please contact Cyndy at 931-787-2211.