By Susan McKee …

Days may still be sunny and hot in September, but when the sun dips toward the horizon, there’s a touch of fall in the air. One of the unmistakable signs of the change of seasons? Apples!

It’s time for apple pie, apple cider, apple butter, caramel apples, apple dumplings. It’s time to head out to an orchard for a U-pick adventure, or set your compass for an apple festival.

One that hits all the marks? The Johnny Appleseed Festival, set for September 15 and 16, 2018, in Archer Park, Fort Wayne, Indiana. The event, now in its 44th year, is a step back in history, to the early decades of the United States when European immigrants to the seaboard states and their descendants began to move west.

The apple tree marched west with these pioneers — and sometimes preceded them – thanks to a man popularly known as Johnny Appleseed. He sometimes randomly planted apple trees as he traveled through what’s now West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.

Apples were essential to the early settlers, not only as food but as beverage. Drinking water from local streams and lakes was risky but imbibing distilled cider from apples, not so much.


Fort Wayne, in Northeast Indiana, claims Johnny as their own (he’s said to be buried there, and you can visit the grave in Johnny Appleseed Park). The Johnny Appleseed Festival brings in Johnny’s era — he lived from 1774 to 1845 — into focus. You’ll find food typical of the period, plus demonstrations of pioneer crafts, and re-enactors portraying traders, storytellers, candle makers and other staples of early 19th century life.

The Trimble County Apple Festival is set for September 8 and 9, 2018, along the streets surrounding the courthouse in Bedford, Kentucky.

More than 85 vendors will offer all sorts of wares (including handmade crafts and demonstrations). Then there’s the food: look for apple pies, apple dumplings, and straight-up eating apples among the pork chops, elephant ears, homemade fudge and barbecue.

Murphysboro’s Apple Festival, now in its 67thyear, will be held September 12 through 15, 2018, centered on downtown Murphysboro, Illinois. The fest is said to be the oldest and largest alcohol-free festival in southern Illinois. Don’t miss the Appletime Bakery & Cider Wagon featuring an ever-changing assortment of apple-flavored and apple-themed treats from local bakeries.

Some 800 lucky visitors to the 43rdannual Nappanee Apple Festival in downtown Nappanee, Indiana, will get a slice from the event’s signature dish: an apple pie that’s seven feet in diameter.

The fest will be held September 13 through 16, 2018. The organizers don’t say exactly when the great pie will be served, but if you miss it, there will be lots more “apple” to enjoy.  At least 20 vendors will be offering apple pie, apple fritters, apple dumplings, apple turnovers, apple fry pies, apple bread, applesauce, apple cider, and apple butter to enjoy during the festival or to take home.

Fall’s favorite fruit is paired with barbecue at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes Apple & BBQ Festival, taking place September 14 and 15, 2018, in the western Michigan town of Silver Lake.

The Arkansas Apple Festival, set for October 5, 6, and 7, 2018, around the Town Square in Lincoln, Arkansas, will be handing out free apple slices amongst all the activities typical of a small-town fest first held in 1975 (when the region was called the Apple Capital of Arkansas).

The 44th annual Apple Harvest Festival takes place October 12, 13 and 14, 2018, in Riverfront Park, Glastonbury, Connecticut. Look for two dozen food trucks and purveyors. Both apple pies and apples will be for sale along with apple cider

Apples – and more fall fruits – are celebrated at the Midwest Fruit Explorers Show & Sale, to be held October 20 and 21, 2018, in the Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, Illinois.

Freshly harvested fruit grown in the area by the Midwest Fruit Explorers is on display and for sale. Featured are apples, pears, pawpaws, grapes, and kiwis. There’ll be apple press demonstrations, showing how cider is made.

For more information on these – and many other culinary travel events – check out Road Trips for Foodies.