Fall Brings a Harvest of East Tennessee Festivals
Nothing says Fall more than a pile of pumpkins and a basket of apples.
East Tennesseans are blessed to have a bushel of pumpkin and apple festivals in their communities, plus many opportunities to visit farms for produce. Corn mazes, hay wagon rides, farm skills demonstrations and country music are all part of this fun-filled celebration of the season.
The Homsteads Apple Festival keeps alive the apple-growing heritage in Crossville. The original homesteaders of the 1930s planted apple trees, even orchards; old trees are still seen in the historic district. Fried apple pies, made from old family recipes, will be for sale along with apple cider and other homemade goodies. This festival on Sept. 22-23 promises family fun especially at the storytelling tent, where seasoned entertainers will spin yarns. A juried craft show and quilt show will highlight regional talents.
The Unicoi County Apple Festival in downtown Erwin on Oct. 5-6 attracts more than 100,000 people for apple cooking contests, bluegrass music, gospel singing, beauty contests, and foot races. More than 350 craft vendors will sell their wares. A children’s area will have games and rides, including a train ride.
The Cleveland Apple Festival will include pony rides, craft show, food booths and a pageant downtown on Oct. 20-21. The apple dessert contest draws out the finest bakers in the region.
On Oct. 6, the pumpkin weigh-off causes the greatest excitement at the Great Pumpkin Festival in Allardt. Last year’s pumpkin tipped the scales at 1,058.9 pounds. Activities include10K, 5K, 3K and 1-mile Pumpkin Runs, beauty pageant, auto and motor shows, antique tractor show, parade, and fireworks.
The Pumpkintown Festival in Athens on Oct. 13 celebrates the heritage of the region by showcasing Native American dancers and featuring crafts, such as woven baskets and jewelry making. Pioneer and Cherokee demonstrations and encampments carry out the heritage theme as well as a Civil War quilt walking trail. Pumpkin-inspired foods, entertainment, children’s activities and a “mutt strut” offer something for everyone.
PumpkinFest in Dayton, slated for Oct. 26-27, willoffer contests of all kinds: the “Perfectly Pumpkin” pie and cake baking contest, pie eating contest, largest pumpkin contest, costume contests and “Scary-oke” contest. On Oct. 27, Pumpkin Fest in Oak Ridge is a fun activity day for children.
The town of Cumberland Gap will glow with the lights of carved pumpkins along Main Street and Festival Park Oct. 29-31. Pumpkin Lights will feature pumpkin carving and ghost stories, plus a Halloween party at the Fire Station as the finale.
Other fall events include Roan Mountain State Park’s Autumn Harvest celebration on Oct. 13; Panther Creek State Park’s Heritage Day on Oct. 20; and Fall Creek Falls State Park’s Fall Colors Weekend from Oct. 20-21. The Historical Rugby Village Pilgrimage will be Sept. 29 and the Museum of Appalachia’sTennessee Fall Homecoming Oct. 12-14.
A good resource for farm harvest events is the Pick Tennessee Products website. It lists festivals, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, hayrides and farm tours.
I’m wondering if anyone has a great pumpkin pie recipe. Email me and we’ll pass it around.