Apples, apples everywhere

By Gus Bode

Southern Illinois residents may be tempted by apples this weekend, but probably won’t suffer the same fate as Adam and Eve.

The Murphysboro Apple Festival started Wednesday and will run through Sunday, with events for all ages. The festival is known for being alcohol free, but most people don’t mind the dry atmosphere, as there are a wide variety of other activities in which to get involved.

This year’s festival theme is “Ripe with Possibilities,” which, according to festivalgoers, symbolizes that we are in the middle of an election year, and it is the general theme of the parade floats.

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The festival is one of the longest running in southern Illinois. It began more than 50 years ago and always occurs the second weekend after Labor Day. It also boasts one of the largest parades in the region, which includes 30 marching bands and hundreds of other floats and entries.

Southern Illinois residents such as Carl Goodman, of Herrin, love coming to the festival for fun times and great company.

“The festival is one of the few things out of the year that really brings the residents of southern Illinois together,” Goodman said.

There is a carnival for the children, a Senior Day, which has discounts for seniors and old-time music and dancing, and the App-L-Ympics, an event that includes competitions in apple seed popping and apple core throwing.

An arts and crafts fair will happen during the weekend as well, with vendors from the area displaying their wares. The atmosphere is a throwback to old-fashioned antique stores and swap meets.

Another big event is the Appletime 5k Walk/Run, which is sponsored by St. Joseph Memorial Hospital and the Carbondale Times. A Golden Apple Award is given to the male and female finishers of the walk, and a $100 prize is given to the top male and female runners.

The festival will conclude Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Smysor Plaza, where the Apple Festival flag will be lowered and a small ceremony thanking the town will be held.

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Perhaps most impressive about the festival is the large number of local businesses that sponsor it. Businesses such as Old National Bank, Silkworm, First Southern Bank and The Southern Illinoisan have all lent their support to groups and events at the festival.

“It’s always nice to go to this festival, especially in a year with so much turmoil,” said Chris Losso, who comes to the festival from Galesburg every year. “It’s one of the few things me and my wife plan on attending every year.”

Wes Lawson can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 275 or [email protected]

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