This weekend’s Johnny Appleseed Festival in Crystal Lake was a big hit, with cheerful crowds enjoying what will likely be one of the last summery Saturdays this year. With no entry fee and lots to do and see, this is definitely an event worth putting on your calendar for next year.
The festival celebrates the legacy of Johnny Appleseed, a famously kind and generous pioneer nurseryman who traveled the eastern Midwest in the early 1800s spreading apple trees and his religion along the way. We had our own visit from Johnny, a jolly man who talked to all the children, posed for photos tirelessly, and handed out glass beads along with folksy humor. The kids loved him and flocked around everywhere he went.
In the Brink Street Market, The Beaumonts spread the joy with their live folk songs and a table of come-one-come-all rhythm instruments for anyone to join in the entertainment. And nearby at the gazebo, Bob Dylan tribute singer Ben Abney and TRIADD entertained folks as well.
Face painting, balloon animals, pie baking & eating contests – everything apples and family fun was on hand, even a lineup of fire and rescue trucks for the kids to touch and tour. At the carnival in the parking lot behind the Brink Street Market, kids could ride ponies, scamper around the petting zoo and even ride in Harms Farms pumpkin train pulled by a very cool old Farmall tractor.
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The craft fair was the biggest I’ve seen it in the last couple of years – in fact vendor space was sold out. Among the popular items this year were knitted hats and scarves, wreaths, Halloween decorations and jewelry. But it seemed to be more varied than some craft fairs I see, where you walk around and just see the same old things you’ve seen in every fair for the last year or two.
I was especially taken by two vendors, Scarves N More and Eileen’s Crochet Hats. I walked out with a new scarf in neutral tones from Scarves N More after deliberating for 15 minutes over the colors. And if my toddler son would suffer a hat on his head he’d totally be wearing the Oscar the Grouch hat at this very moment. I may have to go back to Etsy and get it “for him” anyway. It was so soft and those fuzzy eyebrows just slay me!
The farmer’s market was a bit sparse this weekend with the growing season coming to a close, but fall gourds and hardier vegetables like onions and carrots were on display. Natural Farm Stand in Richmond brought out the best-looking bunch of fresh vegetables.
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It was a really nice event, and I didn’t see a single person having a bad time. Parking was tight in the downtown area, but it’s free and you could park just two blocks away in the big open on the corner of East Crystal Lake Avenue and South Main Street.
See more information about this year’s festival at Downtown Crystal Lake’s site.