2020 Apple Harvest Festival

Local charities have taken a donation hit during COVID-19. But the Rotary Club of Winchester is working to safely host the 2020  Shenandoah Valley Apple Harvest Festival September 19 and 20 and raise much needed funds for area nonprofits. This year, Apple Harvest Festival celebrates 45 years of community giving.

45 Years Supporting Local Charities

Since 1975, the Apple Harvest Festival has been a key fundraising source for the Rotary Club of Winchester. Through the festival, says organizer Darla McCrary, the Rotary has donated over $1 million to local nonprofit organizations. Here are just a few that have benefited from the Shenandoah Valley Apple Harvest Festival.

Winchester Rescue Mission: provides food and shelter for homeless individuals as well as a food distribution program that coordinates with local farms.

Laurel Center: provides emergency shelter and support services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence and their dependent children in Winchester and Frederick, Clarke and Warren counties.

Fremont Street Nursery: one of the oldest licensed daycare centers in Winchester, it’s mission is to provide quality child care within the financial reach of families that is safe, secure and educationally appropriate.

Winchester Day Preschool: This preschool is a 501C non-profit United Way agency and provides affordable, high quality daycare. The day school emphasizes reading readiness and speech-language programs in preparation for kindergarten.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Fundraising

Every year, says McCrary, the Rotary Club of Winchester puts $120,000 into the coffers of local nonprofits. And with the cancellation of so many activities due to COVID, the Rotary is “way behind in our giving.” And the need is greater than ever. From providing blankets for shelters to a new roof for a daycare, “There is always something in the community,” says McCrary.

COVID Safety and the 2020 Apple Harvest Festival

2020 Apple Harvest Festival
Pie eating contest from previous years. This year there will be fewer contestants socially distanced.

The Apple Harvest Festival has been working closely with local health district officials to produce this year’s festival. It is located on 60 open acres at the Frederick County Fairgrounds and 90% of the activities are outdoors. There are two open air buildings for vendors. Sanitizing stations are available throughout the festival grounds, especially in children’s play areas. 

The festival is 10am-5pm Saturday (9/19) and Sunday (9/20). Social distancing is encouraged in the entertainment area. Attendees are welcome to bring chairs. The festival has only one entrance and one exit. Attendance caps at 1,000 patrons at a time. Masks are recommended but not required.

What’s at This Year’s Apple Harvest Festival

Pet Friendly Apple Harvest Festival
Pets are welcome at the Winchester Rotary Shenandoah Valley Apple Harvest Festival

A few activities like the pet obstacle course and pie baking contest have been cancelled. But the festival is still pet friendly and there’s even a socially distanced pie eating contest sponsored by West Oaks Farm Market. Family-friendly live music takes the stage both days.

Saturday, 9/19 Entertainment: 10am – 11:30 Bryan Stutzman; Noon – 2:30pm Wayne Lee Ray Band; 3 – 4:30pm Amanda Wilkins & Sam Stillwell

Sunday 9/20 Entertainment: 11:30am – 1pm Jimmy Lee; 1:15pm  Pie Eating Contest with emcee Barry Lee of WINC FM; 1 – 3:30pm Gary Smallwood.

The $10 admission to the Shenandoah Valley Apple Harvest Festival is good for the day and  includes free inflatables for the kids, live music, the apple pie eating contest, artisans and vendors, and a classic car/hot rod show. $1 off admission coupons are available at all area Handy Mart stores. Children 10 and under are free as well as law enforcement and military personnel (ID required).

Those over 21 can enjoy local hard ciders and craft beers in the “tap & cork” area near the music stage. Food concessions, apples, apple butter, and Rinker’s Cider are also available for purchase.