The National Apple Harvest Festival is held in my old home state of Pennsylvania, more specifically in Arendtsville, right outside Gettysburg. This is the time of year when the local fair ground is turned into a massive apple themed village complete with road signs along paved roads.
Jim and I, along with my parents, decided to have a go at the fest’ this year which annually runs the first 2 full weekends of October.
None of the various gastronomical delicacies found can really be called unexpected at an apple-fest but I will highlight some of the more tasty treats.
The first thing we headed towards was a favorite of my mother’s. She is a huge funnel cake fan (who isn’t, seriously?), so we headed down Candy Apple Lane to get a Pumpkin Funnel Cake. With 3 toppings to choose from (classic powdered sugar, cinnamon & sugar, or icing) Mom opted for the drippy gooey icing and we all admit it was a good choice. I love all things pumpkin this time of year and while the flavor was delicate, it was definitely pumpkin.
With cake in hand we wondered around looking at the local craftsmen selling their wares. There was a whole area dedicated to Native American dancing and live music stages were strategically placed across the whole festival including a booth for Dulcimer Dan! :-)
Since a funnel cake for lunch doesn’t lead to a very happy rest-of-the-day, we decided to grab a pit beef sandwich. The line was insanely long, but moved rather quickly and snaked you past the giant beef spits that sizzled and smoked under the pit’s pavilion.
The sandwiches were on nice soft buns and were piled high with meat. The smokey end bits were best, but over all the sandwiches were very tasty. The meat and bun together made for a dry sandwich, so we headed over to the condiment bar and grabbed one of their various sauces. The condiment bar left something to be desired as all the locals peered into every vat and tossed around onions and made a grand mess of anything liquid. What can you expect really when you are in the middle of the woods?
The next journey around the food fest was to locate a side dish for the pit beef we just gobbled down. I had seen a sweet potato fry stand earlier, so we got in line. I absolutely adore sweet potato fries. They are light and slightly sweet and when topped with powdered sugar are a little piece of deep fried heaven.
While Jim and I waited in line for the sweet potato fries, my dad opted for some fresh potato chips down the road. When we met up to share I was a little disappointed that he wanted chips at the festival, but when he topped them with salt and malt vinegar I was back in heaven. There is nothing like a hot fresh potato chip that 30 seconds ago was a whole potato. The malt vinegar was perfect but made me realize we had not consumed one apple product yet. So on we forged!
Although we were drinking water, wondering past a sno-cone stand made us thirst up in no time. The stand was serving Apple Cider Slush so of course we had to get one. The slush was very fine and very refreshing and quite the opposite from the hot spiced cider that Jim had been craving since we got there (We did end up getting hot cider too – and it was superb).
With slush in hand, we perused the local crafts and various musical venues until we found the dried meats and cheese. I gobbled down my bison beef stick before I could snap a picture, but Jim’s old fashioned beef slab took him a while to get down. We would have gotten some various local cheeses but carrying around a hot sweaty cheese wasn’t very appealing to any of us.
As if all of this food wasn’t enough, my mother thinks its a good idea to pick up a smoked apple sausage for us to try. You could top it with ketchup or mustard, but mom opts for a more festive topping – apple butter. The meat was eerily smooth in texture and the apple butter added a sickening sweetness to it. It may look scrumptious, but after we all took a bite…we didn’t really want to talk about it.
A few more craft booths and a run past the scary puppet show and we found ourselves at apple sauce central, right in the heart of the festival. To settle our stomaches mom and I got two natural unsweetened cinnamon chunky apple sauce cups and sat down on some hay-bales in a “roosting” section to rest. This is when I grabbed a cup of Sarsparilla to further remove the apple sausage taste out of my mouth.
There a tons of booths that sell anything apple you could think of. Apple butters, apple jams and jellies, syrups, honeys, not to mention various species of local apples from the surrounding orchards. We explored some more and checked out the old antique engines and other various farming equipment.
After that we snacked on some hot german pecans, bought some wine from the local Adams County Winery, and before we left, I picked up some apple dumplings, caramel apples, and candy apples to go and we headed home. It was a long day and we ended up eating all of that over the course of four hours. It was fun and there were a lot of things to do there. I’m sure we will be going back next year.