I love the Johnny Appleseed Festival for so many reasons. I have attended at least 20 times during my lifetime so I can give an educated evaluation for my affection for this huge event in my hometown.
One, the festival is located in the Johnny Appleseed Park, located behind the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum on Coliseum Blvd in Fort Wayne. I love the fact that the festival takes place in an outdoor area with grass. I miss grass, living in the city as I do. I grew up in the country and appreciate being outside, eating homegrown food and creating my own fun.
Second, I love the food at the Johnny Appleseed Festival. If you remember, the festival’s namesake planted apple trees so settlers would have food to eat for generations to come. Everywhere you look (and smell) there are apple delights – fritters, dumplings, cake, pie, tarts. The smells are out of this world!
Third, I love the sounds of the festival. At nearly any time during the two-day event, you can hear fifes, bagpipes, cannons, cloggers, drums, orators (Abraham Lincoln may be the most well-known) and more. Military encampments among the festival grounds often feature groups that play their musical instruments for audiences. Bagpipe players are so solemn and reverential that I always stop to listen as they gather in a circle to play tunes. My favorite bagpipe song is Amazing Grace.
Fourth, I love the festival’s costumes. Re-enactors dress in long skirts or wool pants, reflecting the styles and cloth used in Johnny’s time period. This is true, despite the fact that there are often warm temperatures during the festival. The uniforms, usually red, white and blue to resemble our country’s early militia, are especially eye-catching.
Though less flamboyant, trappers dressed in brown leggings look like Daniel Boone wannabes as they explain their daily tasks and challenges of living in the late 1700s. This is when Johnny supposedly walked from the country’s east coast westward, finally stopping in Fort Wayne which became his final resting place. His grave is in the park so a visit to his grave is a good teachable historical moment for families.
Finally, I like the festival because it is free! The only cost is for food and souvenirs. If you missed this year’s festival, put it on your calendar to attend next year – third weekend of September. Until then, eat an apple in honor of Johnny.