SOUTHINGTON — It was a strong finish to the first weekend of the Apple Harvest Festival, with sunny skies and warm temperatures drawing thousands downtown for the annual YMCA road race in the morning, followed by the festival parade in the afternoon, among other festivities and entertainment throughout the day.
The 54th annual Apple Harvest Festival was closed on Friday due to steady, soaking rain, but bounced back on Saturday, capped off by a fireworks show.
There was even more excitement in the air on Sunday due to near perfect early fall conditions.
Over 700 runners participated in the YMCA road race, with Logan Miceli, 18, finishing first overall in the 5K, while Kelly Koba, 23, finished first overall for females in the 5K. Christopher Yalanis, 43, was first overall for non-binary contestants in the 5K.
The race included a 5K run, a 5-mile race, a 2-mile walk, Little Fritter Fun Runs, and a Color Fun Run/Walk.
For complete results, go to appleharvestfestival.itsyourrace.com.
Runner Kate St. Marie of Southington participated in the race for the third year in a row. She attended the fair with her children, which included a six-month-old.
“This is our third year participating in the race,” St. Marie said. “I did good for me, but I did the five-mile run with my friend, and we finished in under 50 minutes.”
St. Marie said she enjoys competing in the race.
“My neighbor and I run it each year,” St. Marie said.
St. Marie said her favorite part of the festival is bringing her kids to the parade, and she always enjoys the apple fritters. This year, she decided to try the fudge and enjoyed it with her daughter.
Lorissa Heath of Southington attends the festival yearly as a family tradition.
“My favorite part about the festival is the food and the fireworks,” Heath said. “I enjoy the Polish food and tried a Frito pie. The apple crisp is also a favorite.”
Heath said she would meet up with friends to watch the parade.
At 2 p.m., the parade kicked off with the Southington Police color guard and K-9 officers and was followed by Southington firefighters.
The 2023 grand marshal, Paul Champagne, rode in a fire-red Ford Mustang, followed by Southington Town Council members. Champagne has been a volunteer of the festival for over 20 years.
The parade also featured Southington High School’s Blue Knights Marching Band, Miss Connecticut Gina Carloto, Miss Connecticut’s Teen Emily Anastasio, and St. Luke Catholic School students who rode on a float decorated with fall leaves.
Other activities that took place on Sunday at the festival included an apple pie eating contest, music from the Kyle Niles Band, and several street vendors of items to purchase and food.
This year, there were over 80 food vendors, including the apple fritters, pumpkin spice fritters, Frito cakes, and more.
Ali Barretta of Southington enjoyed a mac and cheese sandwich just before the start of the parade. Baretta said her sandwich was called the “Mac Daddy,” a grilled cheese with mac and cheese inside it.
On a scale of one to ten, Baretta said it was a 10 and was very buttery and good.
“It was really good,” Baretta said. “Yesterday, I tried loaded tater tots with sour cream and chives. I also tried pumpkin-spiced fritters. They were both a ten out of ten.”
Baretta said that coming to the fair for her was very nostalgic.
“I came back from college to come here, and I’m always going to come here,” Baretta said. “I’m proud to be a Southington native.”
Also present were the Bradley Mountain Farm Goats, where people could pet and feed the animals.Festival schedule
The festival is known as one of Connecticut’s top tourist events held during the height of New England’s fall foliage and takes place on the Southington Town Green.
The festival will continue on Friday, Oct. 6, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 7 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.