So, Fall is here. Last Saturday was the City's Annual Apple Harvest Day. This is event is 25 plus years old and occurs the first Saturday in the month of October. At this point I have attended more Apple Harvest Day's than I can count. What interests me at this point is seeing the changes and the consistencies.
In the late 80s and early 90s when things kicked off, the festival stretched along a segment of Central Avenue. Now it runs the gamut of Central Avenue from Third Street to Washington and then flows down Henry Law Avenue, and takes over the park. It really is two different festivals at that point. the HLA area feels more like a country fair and a carnival. The Central Avenue portion feels more like a street or craft fair with vendors lining the street.
One thing that hasn't changed is the fact you can't get 10 feet without running into people you know and things to chat about (this fact has annoyed my thirteen year old for years). It also hasn't changed that rain or shine people will come to this event. Maybe not 30K people every year, but they do come. I am sure that the Chamber, which produces the event, worries about head counts, but my experience is that there is no need to worry. About 10 years ago, I was on the Main Street Board and manned the booth. It poured rain like you wouldn't believe. One of my roles was to give tours of areas downtown. Even in the rain people showed up. Apple Harvest Day has that vibe and cache.
There is no doubt Dover benefits from having an event like Apple Harvest Day. For every friend, or aquantence I see on the street, I don't know 5 others. I believe that you can break that into a 3 2 split on resident vs non-resident. The festival is a great way for the community and its businesses to reach out to new customers, whether they live here or are visiting.
Apple Harvest Day is one of those events where people can now go for a second generation. My parents took me, I take my child. It has value to all takers. My parents still enjoy going and with the evolution to including more diverse vendors and assets so do I. The day isn't just a craft fair, or isn't just a way for local businesses to have their wares on the street. There truly is a street festival vibe.What is great is that like Harry Potter novels you see and absorb what your age is appropriate to. Some things are over your head and other things are under your age, but aspects will hit you square where they need to and you'll come back next year knowing you'll be satisfied.
This year my wife and I volunteered to help with the road race. There were almost 75 more registrants than last year. This was a healthy increase and was great to see. The race was exciting to see and inspirational in a way, because watching 700 people (or so it felt) run by me as I directed traffic was cool, and made me jealous. They are active participants in the day, and unlike my participation, which was more passive, they are diving in and immersing themselves in the day.
I guess that is my thing to look forward to next year. Always the evolution, maybe I'll run in the road race. We'll see.