SOUTHINGTON — Town Councilor Chris Palmieri officially welcomed attendees to the 53th Apple Harvest Festival at the opening ceremony Friday evening.
The festival, set to take place over the next two weekends, features vendors, rides and several entertainment acts all along the Town Green on North Main Street, with free parking and admission.
Palmieri kicked off the celebration with an introduction to this year’s theme – “Fall Fun for 53 Years” – followed by a performance of the national anthem by Southington High School senior Maggie Blanchard and recognition of the festival sponsors, committee members and volunteers.
“Our festival is truly about bringing our community together,” Palmieri said. “Hundreds of people are involved not only just about the two weekends of the festival itself, but also about the benefits the festival brings to our community year round.”
This year’s festival marks a return for the laser light show, which lit up the Town Green to celebrate opening night. Other events are planned for the weekend, like a fireworks show on Saturday at 9 p.m, and the parade on Sunday at 2 p.m.
“We’re looking forward to a great two weekends of the festival. We hope to see you all here,” said David Lapreay, coordinator of the event.
The festival is already squaring up to be a success, with all 79 vendor slots booked for the weekend. Before the opening ceremony at 5:30 p.m., residents lined up around the block for a chance to sample the apple fritters on offer from Zion Lutheran Church.
During the ceremony the organizers recognized the work of Southington High School students who volunteered as festival ambassadors. One of them – Sophia Sciascia – was recognized with the Golden Ambassador award for her distinguished service in helping with the festival.
Other local residents got recognition in the opening remarks. Southington resident Rebecca Gwinnell was announced as the winner of the “Granny Apple Contest,” chosen based on an essay from her granddaughter in the fourth grade.
Though she was not able to accept the award in person, she will take part in the parade on Sunday.
Ed Dresel was also recognized as the parade’s Grand Marshal. Dresel has been involved in the festival for the past 30 years, starting as a coordinator in 1992 and serving as the parade’s announcer up until 2019.
The festival will also have an arts and crafts show, an illusionist, along with other performers and activities throughout both weekends.
The schedule for all the events is available on the town website.
“Feel at home, enjoy your time here, eat some fritters, and just enjoy yourself,” Town Council Chairwoman Victoria Triano said, enthusiastically ending the opening ceremony.