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Got an obsession with apples?🍎
If so and you are in the NC area, do yourself a favor and make a trip to the Hendersonville, NC Apple Festival. The event takes place on Labor Day Weekend each year and typically runs four days.
I personally love all things apple and make an effort to visit the Apple Festival each year. All of the best apple novelties from local farms come together to create an apple lover’s paradise.
Additionally, there are plenty of non-apple goodies to stock up on. Check out the list below to make sure you snatch up all of the festival goodness.
Top Foods Not to Miss at the Hendersonville, NC Apple Festival…
- Apple Cider Slushie: The perfect treat if you go on a super hot day. Also called “spiced apple slushies” at some stands.
- Kilwins Gourmet Candy Apples: Yes, you can get these elsewhere such as in some malls, BUT – I swear these are the freshest candy apples you will eat! My personal favorite is the Apple Pie Caramel Apple.
- Apple Ice Cream: Another delicious cold treat if it is hot when you go.
- Seems obvious, but APPLES! Just make sure to buy them last so you do not have to carry them around (see tips below).
- Apple Cider Donuts: These little hot cakes sell out FAST! The table was full when I arrived at multiple vendors, but completely sold out just a couple hours later.
- Ginny’s Fudge: We stop here every year for fudge in any fun flavor you can imagine. My favorites: Key Lime Pie, Vanilla Caramel Birthday Cake and Peanut Butter. Plus, they have samples!
- Famous Cinnamon Aroma Almonds & Pecans: You will know when you are close to these treats because the smell so good!
- Fried Apple Pies: These pies are worth making it through the crowds. Yum!
Not that into apples?
No worries, there is a plethora of other options. When I was ready for some non-apple food, I grabbed a delicious burrito from one of the food stands. As a vegetarian, a burrito was my first choice but there were several other food vendors with turkey drumsticks, Greek foods and LOTS more.
If you want to step away from the street crowd for a bite of lunch, I highly recommend Hannah Flanagan’s – especially if you are into beer or Irish Pub food. Plus, they usually have a special menu just for the Apple Festival! Now, be forewarned that it will likely also be a bit crowded in this restaurant due to popularity but may be worth your wait if you have never been there.
I have also visited Renzo’s Ristorante two years in a row for Gnocchi that is out of this world. I don’t know how, but I managed to still have room for Italian food even after all of the apple treats!
If you are looking for a less crowded option or have little ones, Mike’s on Main may be a better choice since they have a cute, 1950s style atmosphere and better options for picky eaters (think Hamburgers and milkshakes!). They serve vegetarian options as well.
Lastly, be sure and swing in McFarlan’s Bakery for some cute apple shaped cookies (they are not apple flavored). They look so simple but are OH SO GOOD. A trip to Hendersonville is not complete without a visit to McFarlan’s for some iced sugar cookies!
Other Apple Festival Tips…
- Take the Free Bag: Before you start shopping, look for one of the sponsor tables and grab a free tote bag if you forgot to bring one from home. The last two years someone was handing out bags throughout the street. Don’t turn this freebie down as you will want something to tote around all your street finds in!
- Skip the Lines: Most food favorites are offered at multiple stands (and yes, they are equally delicious!). A few examples: Apple Cider Slushies, Apple Cider Donuts, Fresh Squeezed Lemonade.
- Leave your furbabies at home: Sadly, no doggies are allowed within the event area (other than service dogs). The reason behind this rule is that dogs can be unpredictable in crowded, tight spaces so they want to avoid unexpected aggressive behavior, etc. If you want to bring your pup back a yummy treat, there is a neat little pet shop called “Wag! A Unique Pet Boutique” that has a whole smorgasbord of doggie delights such as tiny hamburger and hot dog treats and so much more! They have a small section for cat treats and toys too.
- Bring a sweater: Be prepared for a chilly breeze! I was not prepared for how cool the winds were last year. Don’t let that mountain air catch you off guard!
- Bring Cash: Many vendors take cards (yay!), but be sure to have cash on hand for some parking lots (many are cash only) and some booths. You don’t want to miss out on anything because you forgot cash!
- Keep your eyes peeled for samples: Several food vendors offer samples, so be sure and take advantage of all the yummy freebies! This is how I have found several of my favorite things (especially Ginny’s Fudge). Most of the Apple Butters can be sampled too. If they don’t have a sample out, just ask!
- Save the heavy lifting for the end: Buy apples last! You do not want to lug around the 20 different varieties that you decided to buy. Don’t worry, there are still plenty of apples at the end of the day.
Best Time to Go:
Friday or Monday is your best bet for avoiding the crowds. I will absolutely never go again on a Saturday or Sunday…no way, no how! However, if you don’t mind crowds, this probably won’t bother you.
Where to Stay…
If you are not in driving distance, there are a few options. My suggestion is to use Priceline and book a fancy Asheville resort at a much lower bid price! There are not a lot of hotels in Hendersonville but you can check VRBO or HomeAway for more options and Asheville is a great place to stay if you do not find anything available in Hendersonville.
Best Non-Edible Souvenir: I’m sorry but I just can’t get enough of these oversized neon aliens! If you don’t get one, you will probably regret it. Most people are walking around with them and they are pretty easy to win. You can try your hand at winning one near the games and carnival rides. My only complaint, is that they shrunk drastically from last year! I guess not everyone enjoyed dodging massive aliens while walking down a crowded sidewalk. Thankfully, I still have mine from last year since it appears that the giant ones will likely not make another appearance.
Head here for the main Apple Festival website for all of the details on this year’s event.