For The Daily Item

MOUNT PLEASANT MILLS — In spite of, and seemingly because of the COVID shutdowns this year, the Fremont Apple Harvest Festival is hosting more vendors than ever this weekend, in addition to plenty of other offerings. 

According to Deb Bower, vendor and car show coordinator for the festival, as of the beginning of the week the event had already booked vendors in “two huge tents” as well as stands, and numerous vendors were scheduled to bring their own tents and canopies. The vendors range from a number of direct sales companies to patriotic flags, fishing lures, candles, and a variety of crafters. 

“People should come and do their Christmas shopping,” Bower said. 

Event organizers decided in July to move forward with hosting the event, which kicks off Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. According to Bower, it was critical that they did. The event raises money for the Fremont Fire Department. In normal years, it is one of the department’s major fundraisers, but this year, it became the biggest, since they were unable to hold their carnival and Strawberry Festival in June. 

Bower, who is also the department’s membership secretary and Ladies Auxiliary treasurer, said they just purchased a new fire truck that they are currently making payments on. 

Thankfully, they haven’t had any trouble in finding people to make sure the Fremont Apple Harvest Festival happened this year. 

“When we sent out the applications (for vendor spaces), people just started responding immediately. The first tent filled right up,” Bower said. 

The popular annual fall festival will feature goodies that are part of its name: homemade apple dumplings and apple butter, and cider. Bower said they always sell out of the dumplings, even though each year they make more than the year before. 

The silent auction is another big draw. Held in the social hall, the auction boasts numerous items donated by businesses and private individuals. 

Earlier this week, Bower said she got a call from a woman who said her husband, a woodworker, made a rocking horse they wanted to donate. 

Tickets for the auction will be sold up until the drawing at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Bower said only so many people will be allowed in the building at a time, in line with COVID restrictions. Hand sanitizer will also be available. 

Bower encourages people to come out and enjoy the event, to “see all the vendors, start your Christmas shopping, get something to eat and bring your car out to the car show. We have lots of nice trophies to give out.” 

The festival, held rain or shine, will begin Thursday evening, with vendors open from 5 to 9 p.m., and special entertainment by Heather Olson, with a Pasty Cline tribute, beginning at 6 p.m. Hay rides will be held at 7 and 8 p.m. 

On Friday, vendors will again be open from 5 to 9 p.m., and special entertainment will be provided by country rock band Swamp Root, beginning at 6 p.m. Hay rides will also be held at 7 and 8 p.m. Friday will also feature Stauffer’s Butcher Shop Crocks, a quilts auction at 7 p.m., and Air Weaver Balloon Man. 

Pat Naylor, bassist for Swamp Root, said he and the rest of the band are looking forward to performing at the festival, especially since their originally scheduled performance at the fire department’s Strawberry Festival earlier this summer had been canceled. 

“I’m looking forward to the people down there,” he said, adding that they especially love to honor veterans at each performance. 

“At the end of our first show, we will be doing ‘God Bless the USA’,” he said. “I’ll get all the veterans up, get the people standing. Prior to that, I’ll read a poem. People come up to me and say thank you for honoring our veterans, and that just makes me feel good.” 

Swamp Root, which is based in Lewistown, performs a mixture of country rock and classic rock, and Naylor said the audience can expect a little bit of both at their Friday performance. The band also consists of guitarists Billy Zeigler and Don Gordon, and drummer Bob Sterrett. 

Breakfast will be available on Saturday from 7 to 10 a.m., and vendors will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A car, truck and bike show will begin with registration from 10 a.m. to noon, and trophies will be handed out at 1:30 p.m. Entertainment by Lucky Afternoon will begin at 12:30 p.m., and the silent auction drawing will be held at 5 p.m.  

The Fremont Apple Harvest Festival will also feature Hit & Miss Engine ice cream making, the Old Country Store, a baked goods wheel, barrel train rides, pumpkins, gourds, and flowers. Food available for purchase will include French fries, hot cider, coffee, hot chocolate, funnel cakes, hot sausage, pork barbecue, chicken wraps, fish sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers, walking tacos and kettle chicken corn and bean soups. 

The festival will be held at the carnival grounds at 299 Mill Race Road. 

For more information, call 570-541-1423, or visit the event’s Facebook page: Fremont Fire Dept Apple Harvest Festival. 

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