In 1869, the small hamlet of Cardiff in LaFayette, New York captured the world’s attention. One October day, a worker was digging a well when his shovel hit something hard. It wasn’t a rock…it was a petrified giant man over 10 feet long! Thousands flocked to Cardiff and paid a quarter (worth $5 today) to see this ancient wonder. There was only one problem: it was one giant hoax.
Today, a Different Attraction Draws Thousands to Cardiff
Thousands of people still head out to Cardiff each year on Columbus Day Weekend for a more authentic reason: a chance to socialize and savor autumn at the LaFayette Apple Festival.
The 2018 LaFayette Apple Festival returns for its 46th year on October 6th and 7th. On each day, there’s an apple pancake breakfast that begins at 7am followed by the festival which runs 9am-5pm both days.
Admission to the LaFayette Apple Festival is just $5, which includes free parking. And while you won’t see the “real” Cardiff Giant (he’s resting at the Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown), you can view an almost-identical replica free of charge. But you’ll probably be more interested in the following highlights of the LaFayette Apple Festival!
- Over 16 Community Organizations Selling Food from chicken spiedies to hamburgers, funnel cakes and fritters, and of course apple pies, fritters, and more.
- Participate in the Scarecrow or Piemaking Contests (or Just Watch!) If you want to participate, you’ll need to bake your pie or make your scarecrow in advance. Here’s everything you need to know about entering the contests.
- Pick Apples (for Free) Apple Festival Director and Committee Chair David Knapp shares this little-known insider secret: “Once you’ve paid admission, you can pick the Cortland, Macoun, and McIntosh apples right on the property…no charge.”
- Shop Handmade Crafts from Over 500 Artisans! The Apple Festival is a juried craft show meaning that each vendor must be reviewed for quality, handmade craftsmanship before being allowed to sell their goods.
- Endless Family Fun: Tractors and Farm Equipment on Display, Rides (For Purchase), Beekeeping Demos by Hi-Wire Honeybees, and More Fresh, Local Goods for Sale from Onondaga Grown producers like Dutch Hill Maple!
The Apple Festival Has Its Own Rich History
Like the Cardiff Giant, the LaFayette Apple Festival is rich in history and tradition (thankfully, no hoaxes).
In 1973, a group of LaFayette citizens came together to start the first LaFayette Apple Festival by forming a committee. Their goal? To put LaFayette on the map as a great place to visit – and enjoy the Upstate fall season.
“My father and mother, Malcom and Bettye Knapp, were on that first committee – and my mother is still on the committee 46 years later! At the time I was 11 years old, and I remember helping them get ready for the very first Apple Festival. Some folks in town had their doubts, thinking our committee couldn’t pull it off. But 1,000 people showed up at that first Festival, and it’s been growing ever since,” said David Knapp.
David shared that the Apple Festival is held on Columbus Day weekend for a very practical reason. The first event took place on the grounds of LaFayette Elementary School. Since school was closed on the following Monday for Columbus Day, it gave the committee a day to clean up before the kids returned.
“So, while some traditions stay the same – like our event date and St. Joseph’s Church selling those great apple pies – we change things up as well. For example, we recently expanded our parking lots and added a second entrance so it’s easier and faster to get into the festival. The wait times from years ago are a thing of the past,” explained David.
David’s other tip for a great experience is to come dressed for the weather. Over the past five decades, we’ve had snow during the festival as well as record-setting warm temperatures. Rain or shine, the festival always goes on.
If you’re looking to start a new family tradition – with a historical twist – why not head out to the LaFayette Apple Festival this Columbus Day Weekend? See you there!
Since You’ll Be in Apple Country…
Why not stop by a nearby apple orchard before or after the Lafayette Apple Festival? Or, pick your pumpkins and stock up on cider, gourds, and other fall favorites. Use this map of all U-Pick orchards, pumpkin patches, and more. P.S. You can even pick fall raspberries at O’Neill’s Orchard just up the road from the festival.
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