Written and Video by: Sarah Sweigart
It is a brisk autumn morning. Piles of colorful leaves cover the ground while the faint aroma of homemade food floats through the country air.
The early risers walk through the village, watching hurried shop owners plan for the day ahead. Much has changed from Earl Jamison’s 1962 Peddler’s Village, except the taste of the apples.
In its 42nd year, the Apple Festival commemorates the harvest of apples in Lahaska, Pa.
Since 1973, Peddler’s Village has hosted all things apple within Bucks County. Businesses, both permanently residing in the village and surrounding areas, come to sell their fall products to eager visitors hoping to have a weekend of fun.
In her 2012 article titled, “Peddler’s Village: 50 Years as Bucks County’s Premier Shopping Destination,” Patch.com journalist Sandra Moyer Dehaven said the village has grown from its original six acres to 42, “with 70 unique specialty shops, six restaurants, a 70-room inn, and Giggleberry Fair, a family entertainment center.”
Serving nearly two million visitors each year, Peddler’s Village has been attracting more crowds with their unforgettable festivals.
“We have included an old-fashioned cider press, where the apples are crushed and then dumped into a boiling cider kettle,” said Joseph Albert, the Festivals and Events Manager of the village. “There is sand art and face painting for the kids and different live performances throughout the entire village.”
From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Nov. 7-8, visitors enjoyed the village and the festival.
Activities for kids included pony rides, candle making, balloon animals and more. Entertainment was an all-day affair, featuring artists like The Overtones, Toby Mochel, and a Few Good Men and the Jersey Harmony Chorus.
“My parents used to bring me to Peddler’s Village as a child. When I heard about the festival through co-workers, I decided to bring my girls for one last fall trip,” said Pamela Mathews, a mother of two and resident of Reading, Pennsylvania.
Like most families who bring their children and pets, it is fortunate that the festival offers several activities for all ages. “They had a great time participating in all the activities, with their favorites being the pie eating contest and the Give & Take Jugglers on the Main Green,” Mathews said.
Peddler’s Village itself is comprised of many shops, nestled in the hills of the county. Albert said it is for this reason that festivals are organized and hosted with the intent to bring crowds of people.
“This way, we all work together. The shops will advertise their merchandise and we say something is happening on the Main Green, therefore helping each other hand-in-hand,” Albert said.
On Saturday and Sunday, tents were either pitched on the Main Green or stood on Peddler’s Lane. Shops like Skip’s Candy Corner and The Lucky Cupcake Company were selling their best treats. From chocolate-covered pretzels, apple dumplings and apple pies, no visitor left hungry.
“We are definitely local, therefore we have local orchards and artisans. In fact, most of the visitors here are local citizens of the county. Our guests are a large part of the overall turnout from Philadelphia, Delaware and New York,” Albert said.
According to the Bucks County organization web page, there are roughly 70 local farms in the area. Out of those locations, six are orchards and eight more sell apples in addition to their other crops. Bechdolt Orchards of Hellertown, Pennsylvania and Solebury Orchards of New Hope Pennsylvania were the two main apple producers at the festival.
“Honey Crisp is our biggest seller,” said Richard Rowe, Field Supervisor of Bechdolt Orchard’s, out of their 10 apple choices. In fact, in the United States Department of Agriculture “National Retail Report – Fruits and Vegetables” published on Nov. 13, 2015, ranked the Honey Crisp apples highest among store advertisements. On average, the popular brand of apple costs $2.27 per pound, however, due to high demand, this price could rise significantly.
Besides the apple merriment, there was an Artisan Area right off the main village. More than 60 regional artists could display their handcrafted pieces. Some of the products included jewelry, clothing, wooden bowls and original paintings.
When asked what his favorite aspect of the festival was, Albert couldn’t resist in naming all the family made apple indulgences.
“If you just look around today, the turnout is massive. Even though my favorite part is all the apple “goodies” provided by local vendors, all of the people really bring the festival together,” Albert said.