Apple Fest organizers to debut Harvest Market

NILES — Large event cancellations have been a hallmark for the summer amid changing COVID-19 mandates and recommended precautions. As recently as last week, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer again mandated indoor gatherings be limited to 10 persons or less.

Despite repeated cancellations, some good news for those missing events in Niles came was delivered on Thursday.

The Four Flags Apple Area Apple Festival Facebook page announced its Harvest Market for 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Sunday, Sept. 27. The event poster lists craft, commercial, produce and concession vendors as features attendees can look forward to.

On July 6, the organizers for the Four Flags Area Apple Festival announced the event’s 48th year would be postponed until 2021.
“This was an extremely difficult decision and ultimately was one that was made for us due to state restrictions,” said Four Flags Apple Festival president Robert Fortune.

Still, the organizers wanted to be able to put on something in the fall.

“We wanted to still be able to bring something to the community that we could put on and be socially responsible,” said Abby Zeider, an organizer for the Harvest Market. “We want to make sure we are doing everything we can to ensure the community is safe while still having fun.”

With the announcement of the Harvest Market on Thursday also came a call for vendors.

“We have had amazing feedback already,” Zeider said. “Our email has been blowing up from different types of vendors contacting us for information. I’m feeling really positive that this will be a successful event.”

While the Harvest Market will not include picnic tables, seating areas and carnival rides, Zeider is excited to bring back familiar features and vendors to those missing this the Four Flags Apple Festival.

“This event will be sort of a beefed-up craft show,” Zeider said. “We’ll have our craft booths. We are inviting our local farmers and orchards to set up. We will have our commercial vendors, and we have slots for 20 food concessions.”

For the concessions, the food orders will all be prepared to-go, according to Zeider.

“We want people to come out, have fun and support our local vendors,” Zeider said. “They’re all hurting right now, too. We are happy to be able to help them out.”

The vendors and booths will be spaced out, leaving a 12-foot-by-12-foot area in between them.

“We will make sure we are adhering to state orders,” Zeider said. “The only reason we would end up canceling if is the state changes anything. We are planning full-force ahead.”

Four Flags Apple Festival staples such as contests, carnival rides and games will not be a part of the Harvest Market.

“We won’t have benches or public restrooms,” she said. “We’ll have everything you need to stop in, have a good day, do some shopping and then head back home to enjoy your goodies.”

Vendors have until Sept. 4 to commit, Zeider said. After the deadline, the organizers will put together a map of the market and be able to release what attendees can look forward to as the event arrives. While it is still early for contract commitments, Zeider is confident attendees will be able to enjoy some of their favorite vendors as the event arrives.

“I have a feeling that a lot of people you’d expect to see out in the arts and crafts and food vendors will be here again,” she said.

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