Seymour Apple Festival
Whether you're a seasoned Fall Festival-goer, or if this is the first year you've considered going to any of the amazing Festivals in the Ozarks, The Apple Festival of Seymour, Missouri is definitely a recommended festival to visit if you're into lots of shops, lots of food, and lots of entertainment! Anything from candles and soaps to wooden swords and slingshots, you'll find a little bit of everything there! Be sure to put on your best walking shoes and grab a folding chair or two, you'll need it!
I had never realized what a big deal the Apple Festival is, I was in for a big surprise! They were celebrating over 40 years in the Ozarks when I came to visit! The first Apple Festival was held in 1973, after business representatives got together that August and figured out who all would be in charge of promoting retail and business growth. One of the committees involved in this meeting was the Special Events Committee, represented by Max Good, Mary Hightower, and company. The first mention of the festival was reported later on that month, and the first ever Apple Festival took place months later, on October 11th, 12th and 13th.
The parade itself was so long, I almost thought it was a day long activity. There was plenty to see passing by; local churches with their worship bands in tow, political campaigns handing out flyers and apples (of all things!), the local saddle club with all breeds and sizes of horse, firetrucks that lovingly blared their horns and sirens through the parade, and, my personal favorite...drumroll please...the remastered Classics and Roadsters! If there's something I love more than the smell of old exhaust, it's the sound those beauties make when they rev up their engines to show their stuff to the crowd. It's colorful, it's loud, and it's amazing! There were so many Crown Victoria's, Camaros, Chevy's and Fords, all I could see in the distance was cars! All different colors, shapes and body styles. Quite a few marching bands from the area came to visit as well! Seymour's own High School Band, Fordland, Mansfield, and the Springfield, MO Central High Kilties. Being from Springfield and having family that has gone to Central, the Kilties step lines and amazing drumline have had me tapping my feet for years! And of course, I have to mention the candy they were tossing around. The kids standing in front of me had their own bags filled to the brim by the time the parade was half over. It was like Halloween, but nearly two months early.
Just after the parade, I made my way across the square; which is lovely and green, to the main stage where the Seymour High School Band did a small concert, playing marching band favorites that I could dance to, but couldn't quite put my finger on as far as naming the songs. They were wonderful, and you could hear the pride they put into their instruments and their music! Just before their performance, a children's choir sang the National Anthem and America the Beautiful and the American Flag was raised on the boom ladder of a firetruck. Once up the wind took over and gave us a truly beautiful and inspiring sight. On the same stage, the Apple Princess contestants graced us with a sassy and catchy dance routine to Ariana Grande's 'Problem'. It was a short performance, but it was worth watching!
Nestled into the center of the square sits the gazebo, where we watched some talented folks peel Jonathan apples during the Apple Peeling Contest. While not necessarily fast paced, this contest requires precision, a steady hand, and most of all, patience. The contest took place in two age groups; Youth (17 and under) and Adult (18 and up). Some of the apple peelers came from families of reigning and defending champions of past contests at this festival. This contest isn't judged on how quickly you peel your apple, but by the length of the longest, unbroken peel. Each group had three minutes to peel their apple. For the youth contest, a young man named Collin won his 5th consecutive contest with a whopping 64' apple skin peel! For the adults, Collin's own father Brandon won by a landslide with 115' even. This makes Brandon's 8th win over the years. I can hardly cut my apples in even slices, let alone manage to peel my apple continuously to measure 115'. I was quite impressed! After all that concentration and hard work, each contestant was able to keep and eat their peeled apple.
Speaking of eating, the range of food available at the festival was almost as impressive as the concentration of the Apple Peeling contest! I chose to eat at a BBQ stop, set up by the Abou Ben Adhem Shriners. Their pulled pork sandwich was amazing, and the meal came with cole slaw, beans, and a drink. I chose milk, but coffee and iced tea were also available. Just across the way, another truck offered PB&J sandwiches, along with hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, even popcorn and potato chips. No matter what you're in the mood for , one of the trucks around the square has it. I had to stop for a funnel cake and some hot chocolate, since it was pretty breezy and cool when I visited. After my warm treat, I tried some of the fresh root beer, straight out of it's barrel! Ice cold and sweeter than other root beers I've tried, this was a welcome new style of one of my favorite sodas. Hot apple cider and even apple cider slushies were available just around the corner, and you could tell everyone and their brother was in love with it, because the line didn't lessen any of the times I glanced over. Some of the other goodies you could get included candied nuts, snow cones, corn dogs, funnel cakes with different toppings, and soda floats. If only I had more room in my tummy!
While I had a little time to spare, I walked around the square a couple times to get a good feel of all the shopping the festival has to offer. All you can possibly see is tents full of homemade knick knacks, knit hats, hand sewn clothes, and customizable treats. The shops line the streets all around the square, which is pretty darn big to begin with, and I had a heyday walking through and being able to see the sheer creativity of the people who kept booths in each of the tents. They even had two giant tents full of side by side booths, where people made a traffic-like line of those walking through from either side of the tent. I almost came home with a wooden sword with all of the contours and hilt carved into it by the genius who thought up the idea. There were a lot of boys and girls alike carrying around daggers, swords, and even guns, from the same booth.
A few tents contained jewelry like bracelets, necklaces, and mostly earrings! Homemade, beautiful wire jewelry with stones of all shapes and colors. I could have gone around trying everything on for the rest of the day. The homemade soaps and lotions were so light and clean, I wanted a bottle of everything. This also included the candles. With scents like Deer Poop in their midst, who wouldn't stop by out of curiosity? Just across the way, there were wall hangings and decorations for sale. Anything from crosses to stained glass, and painted murals were hanging on their tent walls. They were being bought up faster than anything else I'd seen on the square. I couldn't help but stop by the children's clothes and tutus. They're all so well crafted and colorful, I'm surprised every little girl wasn't walking around in one of these tutus or owl dresses! Some shops even carried scarves and feather boas, with mirrors for you to see just how amazing you look in your new garb. Being a Chiefs football fan, I couldn't help but freak out a little bit when I saw my team's logo on nearly a third of the steins in a tent selling steins and mugs. They also carried designs representing other NFL teams, and some college teams, to give everyone something awesome!
My absolute favorite stop was a little corner tent selling homemade paper star ornaments and yard flowers made out of every day dishes in different colors and styles. I'd seen them here and there, but seeing them in person made my love for them grow like never before!
We can't forget the kiddos! There were quite a few activities and games for the kids around the square. I stopped by a marathon of sack racers, and watched a two different age groups hop their hearts out to the finish line! Younger kids hopped in shorter green sacks, where the older, longer kids hopped along in sacks large enough to carry an entire grocery trip in! Not far from the field games, you could get a mustache painted on, or a cat nose and whiskers at the face painting booth. Each time I see a face painting booth, I feel an incredible urge to hop in line and get a majestic dragon or a sly tiger painted on my face for the world to see! I will definitely be doing so, next time I see a face painting booth! Just one more of the kids activities was a couple of clowns making balloon in all different colors and shapes for a line of eager kids. I could hardly see where the line ended, and it was amazing to see their faces when their balloon was finished and handed to them.
Next time you're in the Ozarks around the Fall season, be sure to stop by the Apple Festival in Seymour! Lots of fun, lots of entertainment, lots of food, and lots of walking! Remember to bring your walking shoes and a lawn chair, so you can set up shop in the square and have a wonderful view of all of the activity and entertainment the Apple Festival has to offer!