An apple a day …

Published 4:48 pm Friday, September 26, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Richard Stilwell doesn't have any favorite activities at the Apple Festival.
Handing out apples to festival visitors from a red and white striped tent at the festival grounds on a brisk early autumn evening, he said: "It's all good."
Stillwell and his wife, Vivian, have attended the festival for close to 30 years.
The retired couple enjoy the annual celebration, which for many people is a chance to see friends they haven't seen for a while.
Vivian, however, also likes the direction the festival has been going in recent years.
The festival, which started out small 31 years ago, has grown into an event that draws between 150,000 to 200,000 people over four days with several contests and good entertainment.
Skerbeck and Bros. Show Inc. provide carnival rides and an abundance of food vendors set up shop at the festival each year.
Based on the amount of people at the festival grounds on Thursday evening, the Apple Festival seems to be in for another good year of business.
People, mostly children, lined up for the many carnival rides on wrist band night, which meant all rides for one price.
Those not taking rides seemed to enjoy their evening with elephant ears, popcorn and hot dogs.
Although the festival is a place to meet people and take rides, it is also a place where some people make a living.
Rob McNally of Grand Rapids will be at the festival with his stand throughout this weekend.
The Apple Festival is only one of many festivals throughout the state he visits with his jewelry.
McNally said his sister, who was at the Apple Festival last year, sold $4,500 worth of jewelry.
That may be considered a descent amount of money for a few days work.
But for Tammy Bush, the festival's main attraction is a certain parade.
"Parade, I love the (Apple Festival) parade," she said.
Bush, who is from Niles, has been coming to the Apple Festival since her daughter, who is now 22 years old, was five.
Like many people who come to the festival this weekend, she will probably run into a face or two she hasn't seen for a while.