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Chamber gears up for 34th Festival

“Ready or not, the Apple Festival is coming,” Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amanda Delp said last week.
The Apple Festival, in its 34th consecutive year, is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Oct. 7-8, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day.
While those dates may seem later than normal, the festival isn’t happening later this year, Delp said.
“Even though the dates for the festival make it look like it’s happening a week late, it’s always held on the Friday and Saturday of the first full week in October,” Delp explained. “It’s just one of those years where the first of October falls on a Saturday, but the first full week begins the following week.”
Delp said she didn’t want people to get confused and make plans thinking that the Apple Festival would be taking place earlier this year.
Delp said she and her staff have been anticipating this year’s event since the conclusion of the 33rd Annual Apple Festival last October.
“This really is a year-round project,” Delp said. “We start working on the next year’s festival pretty much the day after we wrap up the current one.”
Delp said that of the 350 vendor booth spaces in downtown Erwin, only a few are still available to vendors seeking a spot at this year’s Apple Festival.
“By about the end of August, those will probably all fill up very quickly,” Delp said. “It will be at full capacity by the time the festival rolls around.”
Delp also showed off this year’s Apple Festival merchandise, which includes the traditional T-shirt and long-sleeved shirt, with this year’s art design by Sandy Greene.
Also back by popular demand are Apple Festival-themed baseball caps and short- and long-sleeved tie-dye shirts.
The Chamber has also begun accepting applications for its annual Apple Dumpling contest – a fundraiser in which boys and girls ages 5 and under may compete.
“Contest winners will (be chosen) based on the child that collects the most money,” a statement from the Chamber said. “Trophies will be awarded and a savings bond will be given to the Grand Prize winner.”
The cost to register each child in the contest is $10. Applications may be picked up at the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce, located at 100 S. Main Ave., or downloaded from the Chamber’s website at www.unicoicounty.org.
Apple Dumpling contest winners will be announced at the Apple Festival on Friday, Oct. 7, at the Gathering Place stage on Main Avenue. All proceeds collected from the contest will benefit the Chamber’s education programs, including the “Step Up!” youth leadership program.
Also returning to this year’s event lineup is the Apple Festival Pageant, a beauty and talent competition for girls and women of all ages. The pageant will take place at the Unicoi County High School auditorium on Saturday, Oct. 1, at 1 p.m, with a 10 a.m. check-in time for contestants.
The cost to enter the beauty contest is $50, and there are 10 age divisions: 0-12 months, 13-24 months, ages 2-3, ages 4-5, ages 6-8, ages 9-10, ages 11-12, ages 13-15, ages 16-20 and ages 65 and up.
A queen and four runners-up will be crowned in each age division based on contestants modeling in a dress of their choice.
The cost to enter the talent contest is also $50, with three age divisions: Tiny Miss Talent, ages 3-7; Little Miss Talent, ages 8-12; and Miss Talent, ages 13 and up.
A queen and two runners-up will be crowned based on difficulty of routine. The overall talent winner in the contest will also be invited to perform on stage at the Apple Festival.
A third contest, Most Beautiful, costs $15 to register. In the Most Beautiful contest, a queen will be chosen in each age division and will be awarded a trophy and crown.
Applications for this year’s Apple Festival Pageant may be picked up at the Chamber. For more information, contact pageant director Mary Hamilton at (423) 246-3815.