Nothing quite marks the arrival of fall like the Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival.
Wellesley Village will be a hive of activity and local treats on Saturday for the free event, which is in its 41st year.
Festival chairman Bob Reid says attendees can expect much of the same events as in previous years because those are what have been successful.
They will be bringing back pony rides this year for the kids and the Applejacks will have a booth this year. The Jacks are celebrating their 30th year and will be selling team merchandise along with having a game for kids.
“We’re always upgrading. The gals that are in charge of the market really do a great job of getting a variety of vendors in there, so that there’s not too many duplicates, so that gives those vendors more of a chance to do well at the festival if there’s only one or two selling that product,” Reid said.
Pony rides run all day, as does the vendor market in the arena. You can expect the usual festival goodies like candy apples, funnel cakes, doughnuts and apple cider.
The day gets started bright and early with a pancake breakfast at 7 a.m. The model boat regatta begins at 9 a.m. on the pond and the horseshoe tournament also starts at 9 a.m. behind the Wellesley arena.
Last year’s ABC Festival saw sunny skies all day and he says a fair number of people came out, although fewer than the year before. They’re competing this year with the International Plowing Match & Rural Expo in Minto, which runs Sept. 20-24. Some of the vendors will go to the plowing match instead of the ABC Festival.
“If the weather’s there and all indications are that it’s going to be a nice week, it should be a good one and I hope so for all of our chairmen that run their different areas. They put a lot of work into it and it’s sad when you get bad weather. All festivals around here are affected by that,” Reid said.
Preparations were well underway this week as they cleaned booths on Thursday and set up on Friday, helped by a generous group of volunteers.
Whether you’re a high school student who needs to fill his volunteer hours or you’re just looking to get more involved with your community, there’s still room for volunteers to sign up.
“Not everybody has that volunteerism in them and they haven’t been brought up that way, so it’s hard. With an aging population except for all the new people that have come in, which are all young families, our school is exploding again with kids, it’s hard to get them to come out because they don’t have the background of the village and how the festival runs,” Reid said.
He’s hoping new residents will rise to the challenge in coming years to replace volunteers as they age.
For those who’ve yet to check out the festivities, Reid encourages them to bring the whole family. There’s no charge to attend and both tours are even free.
“The only money you have to spend is what you want to buy or eat. We’ve added quite a few items for the younger group, for the kids to enjoy. We want to stay away from the fair type of venue, but we’ve added a few fair-type rides and things that the kids can do,” Reid said.
Cider Mill tours run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and farm tours run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Both tours depart from behind the Nith River Chop House. Kids rides will be going all day outside the arena and you can watch clog dancing on Queen’s Bush Road all day as well. The quilt auction runs from 12:45 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the main stage.
The final stage of this year’s Wellesley Idol competition runs from 2-3:30 p.m. on the main stage on Queen’s Bush Road, where the winner will be chosen. Other acts you can catch on the main stage throughout the day include Karli June, The Chord Spinners, Byron Shantz, Jampure, Kyle Geraghty, and children’s entertainer Erick Traplin.
“I think the entertainment on the street gets better and better. The Idol contest is fabulous again. We’ve got three very talented young people competing for the Idol title. It’s always well attended,” Reid said.
The Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival runs this Saturday, Sept. 24, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Wellesley Village. Admission is free. For a full schedule visit www.wellesleyabcfestival.ca. To volunteer, call Reid at 519-656-2078.