Sen. John Proos: Join the fun at the 40th annual apple festivalPublished 9:11pm Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Autumn is upon us, and a great way to mark the changing of the season is to celebrate the quintessential fall fruit: the Michigan apple.
I encourage southwest Michigan families to join me at the 40th annual Four Flags Area Apple Festival in Niles this week, Thursday through Sunday.
The apple festival will have a fine selection of apples — offered in a variety of ways.
There will be caramel apples, apple pastries and, of course, apple pie.
In addition to the many apple treats, children can look forward to a four-day-long carnival that includes cool rides and great games. Residents both young and old will enjoy the many contests that the festival hosts, including a scarecrow contest, a log-sawing contest and even a beard-and-mustache contest. Awards will also be given to the best apple pie, pastries and cakes and for the biggest apple.
One of the festival’s largest events is the Grande Parade on Saturday. It starts at 1:30 p.m. in downtown Niles on Second Street.
The route travels five miles through town and finishes at Niles High School.
Miss Apple Festival and her court and Junior Miss Apple Festival and her court will be leading the parade and can also be seen at many events throughout the weekend.
Saturday night ends with a fantastic fireworks display and Sunday includes a custom car show and the 24th annual Lip Sync Contest.
The festival concludes with the famous apple pie eating contest – where contestants usually end up wearing as much pie as they eat.
This year’s festival is especially poignant. It has been a tough year for Michigan apple growers, and many farmers — including apple growers — lost much or all of their harvest due to unusual weather conditions.
To aid affected growers, I sponsored a Senate resolution urging the U.S. Agriculture secretary to declare Michigan’s fruit-growing region a disaster area. After the secretary made the declaration, our hard-hit growers were able to access low-interest loans and other federal assistance. This temporary aid — to be paid back by the farmers — will insure local growers and their apple trees will be around for next year’s festivities.
The festival started in 1972 with one purpose: promote, unite and cherish the apple harvest. During the past 40 years the event has grown in size and popularity — becoming a must-do on the community entertainment calendar.
If you participate in one of the many contests or just watch the parade, the Four Flags Area Apple Festival will bring a smile to the faces of the whole family. For more information about the festival, including a detailed calendar of events, visit www.fourflagsapplefestival.org.
Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, represents the 21st District, which includes Berrien and Cass counties and most of Van Buren County.
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