The National Apple Harvest Festival got its roots more than 50 years ago by the Adams County Fruitgrowers Association after having successfully run “Apple Blossom Sunday” since the early 1950’s. In 1961, the first “Apple Harvest Holiday” was held.
The Upper Adams Jaycees, chartered in 1962, and eager for a fundraiser, contacted the Fruitgrowers and after negotiations, attempted to organize the event themselves in 1965. The National Apple Harvest Festival got its official debut on Sunday, October 10, 1965.
Featured attractions, many of which are still present at the festival today, included an antique car display, apple cider press, apple butter boil, pony rides, orchard bus tours, apple desserts, apple product sales, candy apples, souvenir booth, and the Apple Blossom Queen. Entertainment has grown to include bands playing live music on several stages throughout the fairgrounds, Native American dancers, tractor square dancing, a petting zoo, steam engine with working shingle mill, apple pie auction, whose proceeds are donated to charity, and much, much more.
The festival continued to grow each year and profits were used by the Upper Adams Jaycees to build Oakside Park, a recreational facility, which is open to the public in Biglerville, Pennsylvania.
In 1975, the festival expanded to two weekends and continues to be held on the first two full weekends of October each year.
In 1994 during the 30th anniversary, ABC's Good Morning America team visited the festival. Their staff filmed the festival and featured it on national television. In 2012, we were recognized by National Geographic Traveler as one of their “Best Fall Trips 2012”, as well as SmarterTravel.com’s list of “10 Great Fall Festivals”.
Today the festival features over 300 arts and crafts vendors, an artisan demonstration area, strolling characters, antique farm equipment displays and of course food! Apples of all shapes, sizes, and forms, baked into just about anything you can imagine from homemade applesauce made fresh during the festival to pancakes, syrup, cider, slushies, guacamole, candy and caramel apples, pizza and much more. Plus, our famous pit beef sandwiches, chicken barbecue, sausage sandwiches, funnel cakes, sweet potato fries will surely delight your senses.
In 2014, the festival celebrated its 50th anniversary with a special ceremony marking the kickoff of the festival during the first Saturday.
The festival has won dozens of awards from local, national and international outlets.
The festival is run by hundreds of volunteers. All proceeds go back into the community in the form of projects offered by the Upper Adams Jaycees- including Oakside Community Park, donations to other organizations, as well as to support charitable activities throughout Pennsylvania and the nation.