SOUTHINGTON — The Apple Harvest Festival begins today with plenty of traditional food, entertainment and special attractions to mark the event’s 50th year.
Here’s six things to know about this year’s festival.Parking and hours
The festival takes place over the next two weekends. It runs from 5 to 9 p.m. on both Fridays. It will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the first Saturday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the second Saturday. The festival also runs from noon to 7 p.m. the first Sunday and noon to 5 p.m. the second Sunday.
Free parking will be offered at Southington High School, where free shuttles will run to and from the festival on both Saturdays and Sundays, starting 30 minutes prior to the festival’s start time and running until 30 minutes after the festival ends.
“We want to get as many people to come down and see what Southington has to offer,” said Chris Palmieri, chairman of the festival’s supervisory committee.Special attractions
One of the highlights of this year’s festival is a new laser light show, which festival goers can catch at 8:15 tonight on the Town Green.
“It really is going to be amazing,” festival coordinator Melissa Cocuzza said of the laser show. “They really have something special set up to start the weekend.”
Other special offerings for the 50th annual festival include the making of an 8-foot high and 8-food wide sand sculpture. Escapism, an escape room in downtown, will have a room set up free of charge. Rolling Video Games of New England will also have a trailer set up for free gaming during the festival’s first weekend.Music and fireworks
Rock band Bowling for Soup, known for their smash hits “1985” and “Girl All the Bad Guys Want,” will perform on the main stage on Saturday at 7:45 p.m. Fireworks will follow the show.
“We wanted to bring in a nationally-known band for the 50th anniversary,” said Dave Zoni, co-chairperson of the festival’s entertainment committee. “It’s going to be a great show.”
CT Icon, a singing competition, was an event that spanned six years at the festival, and will make its return on Oct. 5 at 5:30 p.m. Winners from previous CT Icons will be on hand to perform for a reunion show.Food
More than 50 vendors will be selling a variety of food, including apple fritters. An apple fritter eating contest will take place at noon on Saturday. The apple pie eating contest will take place on the festival’s second Saturday.
Other food offerings include pumpkin fritters from Vinci Concessions, fried Oreos and pickles from Deb’s Cafe, lobster mac and cheese from Szabo’s Seafood, and ice cream from North Haven Creamery and Carvel.Arts and craft shows and carnival rides
The familiar and popular arts and crafts shows will take place during the second weekend of the event, on Oct. 6 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Oct. 7 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Carnival rides and games will be available both weekends during festival hours. Guests can pay $25 for an all-day ride pass.The parade
The Apple Harvest Festival parade steps off at 2 p.m. on Sunday near the corner of West Main and Summer streets. The parade continues along Summer Street, then onto West Center before heading north to Center Street. The parade travels east on Center Street before turning south on Main Street past the Town Green. The parade ends on Eden Avenue.
While the grand marshal of the parade is usually just one honoree, the committee kicked it up a notch for the 50th anniversary, and is honoring the Champagne family, including Jim Champagne, who was the festival’s coordinator for a decade until last year, and his late wife Rosemary.
“We wanted to do something special for the 50th, and we couldn’t think of anything better than (honoring) the Champagne family,” said Tom Lombardi, the co-chairman of the festival’s supervisory committee.
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