Fall is Festival Season
- Visit North Central
The leaves are colorful, the air is crisp, the harvest is bountiful. The stage is perfectly set for a festival!
Get ready to celebrate — because fall weekends are jam-packed with fairs and festivals spotlighting the bounty and
beauty of New England. It’s time to eat, drink and be merry!
From Labor Day right through to Thanksgiving, local farms, fields, and even city streets come alive with the flavor of
harvest season in Johnny Appleseed Country. If you’re looking for apples, you’ve come to the right place to enjoy Johnny Appleseed’s legacy. But there’s so much more! While farmstands and pick-your-own orchards welcome visitors every day, on weekends the region really rolls out the red carpet.
He’s arrived by parachute, posed for photos, and shared tales of life long ago. If you haven’t met him yet, stop by the Appleseed Country Fair on Labor Day weekend to chat with this local legend. For three days, the Red Apple Farm in Phillipston is a beehive of activity, from a fabulous fiddler competition to hayrides and a tent featuring locally-brewed beer.
A is for Apple
If you love apples — and who doesn’t? — be sure to check out Sholan Farms’ Cream of the Crop Festival on the last weekend in September. This volunteer-run apple orchard in Leominster celebrates its favorite apple, the Macoun … but there are plenty of other varieties, too, for you to pick and enjoy!
And when you head into Leominster, be sure to stop downtown for the Johnny Appleseed Art & Culture
Festival. On September 24, Main Street becomes a marketplace with vendors, kids’ activities, music and more.
All Crackered Up
Cities and towns across the region love to highlight their heritage — and in Westminster, it’s all about crackers. The iconic red Westminster Cracker factory is the inspiration for the Cracker Festival on October 22. Enjoy the chili and chowder contest, beer garden, live music, kids’ activities and more.
Not to be outdone, Gardner reminds visitors of its reputation as the Chair City — with a no-holds-barred Chair Luge race. It’s a wild, wacky series of racing heats, with teams competing for top honors. No sleek race cars here, though — all competing vehicles began life as ordinary pieces of furniture: office chairs, rocking chairs, recliners … if it had a seat and legs, it’s fair game for conversion. The Chair Luge is just one feature of Gardner’s Fabulous Fall Festival on September 24. Wet your whistle in the German Beer Garden, and cheer on your favorite luge team!
Like many local communities, Fitchburg has been a melting pot for immigrants through the generations. So it’s not surprising that residents of various national origins like to celebrate their roots with lively music, food and fun. Take, for example, the Greek Festival at Holy Trinity Church on September 23 and 24, where Greek foods will tempt your palate!
Music, Music, Music!
Soon, the slopes of Wachusett Mountain will be covered in snow and populated by skiers. But while fall is in the air, skiers and non-skiers of all ages will gather on the slopes for a series of festivals filled with music, fabulous food, and family fun.
For more than two decades, Wachusett Mountain has been delighting families with its KidsFest weekend, packed with fun for all ages. This year’s event, on September 24 and 25, promises to continue that tradition, with moonwalks, jugglers, clowns and even a Ninja Warrior challenge course.
And almost before the echoes of family laughter fade from that scene, the mountain starts to rock again, this time with the fascinating flavors of the fifth annual Great New England BBQFest.
Not your grandfather’s cookout, this food feast on October 1 and 2 includes chili, a pig roast and an Oysterfest featuring oysters on the half shell, clam chowder and shrimp — along with a daily Oyster Shucking Competition. And don’t forget the craft fair and farmers’ market — and, of course, the beer tent!
But wait! Don’t leave! The fun continues in mid-October, when Wachusett Mountain rolls out its 33rd annual AppleFest. It’s another great weekend filled with exciting events for all ages: a craft fair, scenic foliage sky ride, pie contests, German food, music, and, of course, lots and lots of apples!
The Nose Knows
Yes, just follow your nose to Forster’s Farm in Orange on September 24-25 to visit “the festival that stinks.” It’s all about garlic, and all very tasteful. As its organizers will tell you, “Kindness, community and inspiration are always in style” at the Garlic & Arts Festival, a popular destination that attracts lovers of art and alliums from throughout New England.
In this peaceful setting, you’ll find booths with artists, farmers, community organizations and garlic cuisine; healing arts exhibitors; and a new ‘Portal to the Future’ area that highlights ways that art, food, small-scale farming, renewable energy, care for the land, and hand skills all contribute to community-building and local resilience.
Clearly, the folks in Johnny Appleseed Country have lots to be thankful for. And as the harvest season winds down, Red Apple Farm holds a Thanksgiving Festival, featuring local foods to fill your holiday table. From turkeys to cranberries, you’ll find everything you need, along with handcrafts, music and the popular X-Games on November 19 and 20.
No matter how you slice it, autumn in Johnny Appleseed’s backyard is lively and flavorful, as local farms and orchards invite visitors to sample their bounty.
Pick a weekend, any weekend, and you’ll find a farm-fresh festival just waiting to dish up some country fun. For a complete listing of local events this fall, see the calendar section of this Guide or visit Johnny online at appleseed.org.