Niles Apple Festival Harvest Market aims to showcase vendors, food trucks

NILES — There may not be carnival rides or contests, but the Niles area will still have a chance to celebrate the seasonal harvest with the Niles Apple Festival Harvest Market this weekend.

The market will take place 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 26, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 27, at the Four Flags Apple Festival grounds located at the corner of Lake and 17th streets. Parking for the festival will be a $5 donation fee.

Without hosting the regular Apple Festival with carnival rides and contests due to COVID-19 restrictions and precautions, the annual harvest celebration will take a different path this year. There are around 85 vendors participating and 15 food trucks to look forward to at the Harvest Market in the coming weekend.

“There’s no contests, no rides, no entertainment,” said Abby Zeider, pageant ad sponsorship chairperson for the Four Flags Apple Festival. “It’s really just a harvest market. We are excited to be able to give something to everyone in our community, but also excited to help our vendors sell some of the things they have been making all through the year.”

With all things adapted to COVID-19 precautions, the outdoor harvest market will be no different.

“We have spaced everything out,” Zeider said. “Our booths will be kind of set up in a checkerboard style, with 12 feet either side of the booth and behind it.”

The organizers have asked the food truck vendors to package food in to-go boxes and bags for patrons of the festival, so they can enjoy their food at home. There will also be hand sanitizer available for patrons of the festival as they shop and make purchases from the vendors.

Another thing that may look different to attendees with the Harvest Market is that there will not be an apple products tent next to the Apple Festival building on the grounds.

“We will have a  small tent out with Apple Festival apparel and logo items, but we are really letting our vendors bring in everything else,” Zeider said. “We have a farm that is bringing apples, pears and other types of products, so there will be apples there. We have another farm stand that is looking at bringing apple cider and caramel apples. The things people like will be there, it just won’t be in the Apple Festival products tent.”

In the beginning of planning, Zeider said things moved slowly. As mandates shifted through the spring, vendors were hesitant to commit to a market. However, now festival staff are getting applications “nonstop” to participate, she said.

“We’ve worked very closely with the city and the health department. They see no problem with this event,” Zeider said. “Now that we are closer, we have a ton more interest. I think it will be very successful.”

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