Handmade Fun

 Handmade Fun

Lebanon’s Country Applefest mixes local, homemade crafts with fall flavorsKarina Baffa Food, art, hayrides and music—as summer comes to an end and the school year begins, Cincinnati gears up for a fall full of festivals. One in particular showcases work from local handmade craft vendors, is perfect for the entire family and gives back to the community.

Held on the Warren County Fairgrounds Sept. 29, the 36th annual Country Applefest keeps it local, from its vendors and entertainment to its volunteers, all the way to its donations.

“We’ve got over 200 craft vendors that do all their handmade craft items—it’s the only way they’re allowed to be permitted in our festival. But they are also local within a 50-mile radius, so we try to keep it at home,” says Jessie Lyn Fisher, the entertainment director of the Country Applefest. To be specific, 72 percent of this year’s vendors come from a 30-mile radius of the festival and 30 percent are from a 10-mile radius. The festival also features local nonprofit groups and is passionate about giving back.

Throughout the past nine years, the festival has donated $25,000 to the local food pantry as well as $10,000 to local nursing home residents. “Our community is very special to us. Being as we have the largest running festival in Warren County, we try to give back as much as we can,” Fisher says. From 2010 to 2013, the festival donated almost $3,000 to local Lebanon nursing home’s secret Santas.

In addition, Country Applefest’s donations have supported the boosters club at Lebanon High School as well as Lebanon High’s AFJROTC. Members of Lebanon High School’s boosters club, along with cadets from the AFJROTC, serve as the festival’s parking coordinators. “We could hire out companies to come in and park our cars and things like that, but we put our trust in our local schools with their ROTC,” Fisher says. “Those cadets are amazing.”

As for entertainment, Country Applefest brings in local dance studios and local bands to perform. Fisher’s venue, the Lebanon Grand Opry, is the sponsor of the stage and her band is set to be one of the headliners. Although the rest of the headliners have yet to be narrowed down, Fisher assures that they strive to keep it local, and sponsorships help them bring in bigger headliners. “Sponsorships are important to us. They reach out and we try to give it right back,” she says.

There’s not a chance the food booths won’t get you in the fall spirit. This year’s festival has a new requirement—all the food booths must offer something apple-related. You’ll be able to enjoy apple fritters, apple pies and caramel apples. Not feeling apples? You’re also welcome to kettle corn, southern barbecue ribs, burgers, hot dogs and much more.

Country Applefest Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization and is made up entirely of volunteers.

The festival is an alcohol-free, family-friendly environment and will include homemade crafts, a variety of food and entertainment. Admission and parking are free.