CJ Extra: Apples at the core of annual Topeka festival

Changes are coming to the 38th Annual Apple Festival. For the first time, it will be a two-day event and incorporate the 13th Annual Wheatstock music concert.

The festival will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 at Old Prairie Town at the Ward-Meade Historic Site, 124 N.W. Fillmore St.

“Without our wonderful volunteer base, this event could not happen,” said John Bell, recreation program supervisor for Old Prairie Town/Shawnee County Parks and Recreation. “We have tremendous support throughout the community.”

Q: What does the Apple Festival commemorate?

Bell: Celebrating everything fall and everything that pertains to (Old) Prairie Town. It is our biggest event of the year. … We merged Apple Festival and our Wheatstock festival. (Wheatstock) showcases Shawnee County musicians, with about 30 volunteer musicians and 25 groups taking the stage located on the north side of the Mulvane General Store.

Q: How many people usually attend?

Bell: For the one-day event, we’ve had 6,000 to 8,000. A lot depends on the weather. With it being a two-day event, we’re hoping for 10,000 to 12,000. … All the proceeds benefit the Friends of Ward-Meade, and all the funds from the Apple Festival stay here to help with enhancements.

Q: How many volunteers are there?

Bell: About 300 volunteers overall to make it work for both days.

Q: What types of things will be going on? Entertainment?

Bell: All the buildings will be open with tour guides all day, both days. In addition to that, we have a couple of new things this year. We have the Kansas Muzzleloading Association, with an encampment set up with four or five tents (throughout the festival) … and we also have the Lecompton Reenactors, with more formal presentations, both days as well, 11 a.m. to
2 p.m.

Q: Where should people park?

Bell: In addition to the parking that we have, which is very limited, we also provide bus transportation from the (Kansas) Judicial Center, which is located at (S.W.) 10th and Jackson. There will be two buses shuttling all day, both days, to Old Prairie Town. All buses run from the south side of 10th Street Parking Lot No. 2 (north side of
lot).

Q: What are some of the apple items that will be for sale?

Bell: Cider donuts, which usually sell out every year; apple fritters; caramel apples; apple pies, whole or by the slice. (These are sold) at the Snack Shack tent located at the east end of the…

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