The annual event will take place the next two weekends, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 9 and 10, and Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 16 and 17 at the Ellijay Lions Club Fairgrounds on South Main Street. The annual antique car show is Oct. 9 at the Civic Center, and the festival parade is Oct. 16 starting at 10 a.m.
Apparently the recession is over so far as the Apple Festival is concerned. The folks in charge say that more than 300 vendors are signed up to display their wares from handmade crafts to all manner of apple products. That compares to only about 200 vendors last year.
Of course, the star of this show is apple and things made with apples - including apple pies, apple bread, apple tarts, apple dumplings, apple butter and old-fashioned apple cider.
"There's a good crop this year," says my apple-growing friend, Marvin Pritchett of the Red Apple Barn on Highway 282 west of Ellijay. His is one of nine apple houses in the Ellijay area loaded with a wide variety of apples and other products including old-fashioned sorghum syrup and homegrown honey.
Popular varieties are the Jonagold (a cross of the Jonathan and Golden Delicious) and the Cameo, a sweet, tart, crisp and juicy fruit all in one. Other favorites include the Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Rome, Stayman Winesap, Mutsu (a cross of the Granny Smith and the Golden), Fuji, and Arkansas Black, a local favorite.
One variety is always special to Marvin Pritchett. It is the Pritchett Gold, a one-of-a-kind apple with a story to match. It began when a county work crew plowed up a volunteer apple tree while digging a ditch along the dirt road near the Pritchett farm more than two decades ago. Marvin's father, W. T. Pritchett, found the tree and rescued it. He set it out near his house. The plant survived and began to flourish. When it bore fruit, it was different from any variety the Pritchetts had ever seen or tasted. They grafted new trees from the original one, and now there are enough trees to produce a sizable crop every year.
The qualities of the Pritchett Gold are unusual: "It is very crisp, has a longer shelf life than the regular Golden," Marvin Pritchett says. And it keeps it color after slicing much better than most other varieties.
Festival visitors will have free parking - although a donation of $2 is suggested for benefit of local Boy Scouts, a worthy cause. Tickets are $5 for adults. Admission is free for children under 10.
There are so many good things about apples. They are high in dietary fiber, low in sodium, lack cholesterol, and a middling size apple has only 80 calories.
Remember what they say about an apple a day.