By DENISE FEDOROW
The word on the packed festival grounds Saturday afternoon was that the 2013 Nappanee Apple Festival was going great.
Grandparents, including Lorna Miller from Elkhart who was enjoying the carnival rides with 3-year old grandson Lincoln Smith, and Nappanee parents Dana and Barney Brown who were letting their 3-year old daughter Peyton try her hand at the fishing game, were all set for a fun-filled day of food, rides and games.
Dana Brown said what she liked best about being at the festival was the “atmosphere of the small town.”
Don Greer of Burton Brothers Amusements said the festival was “going pretty good.” He thought the crowds were better than last year and said, “I think it’s getting bigger and better every year.”
Last year an estimated 85,000 people attended the festival.
Serving it up
Over at El Cielito Lindo Mexican Restaurant where the 7’ apple pie was being served, people kept peering in the front window to get a look as committee member Miriam Hartman dished it out. Asked if she thought they might run out before the festival ended she replied, “Oh yeah, and probably soon.” Hartman said the pie was in the oven for 17 hours and took 4½ hours to assemble. She said they cut about 950 pieces.
Ramon Rosales of El Cielito Lindo was kept hopping with customers.
“Oh my gosh,” he said. “Everyone came in today. (Friday) was good but (Saturday)? Oh my gosh. The apple pie brings lots of people in.”
Core Committee Member Pam Shaw was on the job by the Granpa Cratchet show.
“The weather cooperated, the parade went well and everyone’s enjoying themselves,” Shaw said. “The food court lines are long and everyone’s having a great time.”
Shaw said the festival shows were all well attended.
“People love Granpa Cratchet that’s why he keeps coming back and it’s always a different show. And Silly Safaris has been a great show and the Josh Horton show, too.”
Visitors from all over
The Allwardt family from Valparaiso was taking a break from the festivities and enjoying an elephant ear. They said they’ve been at the festival since 9 a.m. Ilona Allwardt said she really appreciated the food court area with sit down dining options, something a local festival in her area does not have.
“I like that they have the picnic tables where you can sit down and eat, that’s very nice,” she said. “It’s a very nice festival, we’ll be back.”
Visitors from all over the state could be found at the festival, as well as folks from Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky and California.
Over in the entertainment tent “A Touch of Texas’ was playing some “foot stomping music” to a packed house. Fred Homberg of Warsaw was one of the people enjoying the country band. He said he’s been enjoying the food and everything else about the festival.
“We’re here primarily because of Spike & the Bulldogs,” he said of the 50s & 60s band that was scheduled to play later in the evening. Homberg said he was glad to be able to catch the country band first, however.
Apple Festival Director Lora Beachy also reported that the festival was going very well, despite some morning rain on Saturday.
“We’ve been hearing a lot of appreciation for the cleanliness of the festival, the food and the vendors,” Beachy said. “Josh Horton & Silly Safaris have been a great hit. Overall, it’s been a great time.”
Beachy said she had no idea of number of attendees as of yet, but felt they had at least as many people attending the festival as last year.
The festival continues today until 6 p.m.