Apples and entertainment

By Gus Bode

For around four days, people from southern Illinois get a chance to take a break from life’s stresses and enjoy funnel cakes.

Carnival rides, games and the all popular funnel cakes and lemon shake-ups are just a few of the many attractions at the 56th annual Murphysboro Apple Festival.

The festival is in full swing and will run until Sunday. It is located in the center of Murphysboro. It takes around 30 volunteer committees to run the event packed with activities such as a parade, a pie-eating contest, a carnival and live music.

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Mike Ruiz, chairman of the festival, said it began and still exists as a way for local businesses to attract people to Murphysboro to see what is there.

“Things like these are more important than they were 50 years ago,” Ruiz said. “Now people do move at a hectic pace. They can shop anywhere they want on the Internet, so you really have to kind of get something like this to bring people to come to your town.”

Ruiz said the festival is similar to other festivals around southern Illinois such as the Carbondale Main Street Pig Out, Chester’s Popeye Festival and the DuQuoin State Fair although there is no competition between the festivals.

The event is in celebration of the apple crop, which has always been a big part of the Murphysboro economy, Ruiz said.

For many residents around southern Illinois the festival is about fun and overall tradition.

Marjorie Richerson, from Lee’s Summit, Mo., said she has been to all but two of the festivals and remembers vividly when they started.

Richardson said at one of the first festivals they handed out apple cider and doughnuts to everyone who attended. Times aren’t like that anymore.

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“It has just gotten a lot bigger every year, it seems like they just keep adding things every year,” Richerson said. “When it started there was a queen crowning and a small parade – that was really the two big things.”

For participants who get nauseated on spinning carnival rides or are no good at knocking down bottles with baseballs, a large stage called the “Apple Time Stage” provides musical entertainment.

Sheila Chamness of Murphysboro said she has come to the festival her whole life and generally attends to see the gospel singers and enjoy a corndog.

“The weather is great and the atmosphere is OK,” Chamness said. “I am not really necessarily a carnival person but because I am local and I live here I support the apple festival.”

Daily Egyptian writer Eugene Clark can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 275 or [email protected]

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