This is also one of the busiest seasons especially on the Bradley County Courthouse Square. The monthly antique car show on the square will continue to wow everyone through Saturday Oct. 23, followed by the Halloween Block Party on Oct. 31. The Christmas parade will wind its way around the courthouse in December and thousands will line the streets for a glimpse of Old Saint Nick himself.
Kicking off the festival season around the courthouse is the family-friendly Cleveland Apple Festival on October 16-17. The Apple Festival is not a part of the official MainStreet Cleveland calendar. However, MainStreet Executive Director Sharon Marr tells me she is happy that downtown Cleveland can host this event. Sharon said “the backdrop of the Courthouse and the historic buildings gives the festival a great nostalgic feeling.”
The Cleveland Apple Festival is a 501(c)(3) public charity that donates all net proceeds to other nonprofit organizations. The event offers a juried arts and crafts show, live music, food booths, pony and hay rides, entertainment, children's activities and much more. Children age 12 and under are invited to visit the Trailhead Bicycle Kid's Zone where all children's activities are free, including pony rides.
One of the most interesting events is the Apple Dessert Contest. Festival organizers are looking for the best homemade apple dessert in the valley.
You can download an entry form from the festival website at www.clevelandapplefestival.org. Bring your recipe and dessert to the gazebo on the square Saturday morning for judging between 11:15 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Winners will be announced from the stage at 2 p.m.
The grand prizes include a Chattanooga Choo Choo Getaway for two; two tickets to the Tennessee Aquarium's River Journey & Ocean Journey; admission for two to the IMAX 3D Theater; $10 in Choo Choo Bucks for use in gift shops or restaurants; and tickets to the Model Railroad Museum. Plus, your dessert will be featured at Cleveland's Mountain View Inn for two weeks.
Festivities will get under way Saturday at 10 a.m. and again Sunday at 1:30 p.m. The action will wrap up around 5 p.m. Sunday with a Trailhead Bike giveaway.
Between 75 and 100 arts & crafts exhibitors are expected to be on hand for the event and vendor applications are available on the festival website.
Also on Sunday afternoon, girls between the ages of 5 to 12 are invited to compete for the titles of Little Miss Apple Blossom, Junior Miss Apple Blossom and Miss Apple Blossom. Each contestant is asked to dress in her best farm or country girl outfit. Judging will be based on costume and presentation. Dress rehearsal is at 2 p.m. with the contest kicking off at 3 p.m. The three age divisions are 5-7, 8-10 and 11-12. The cost to enter is $10 for each contestant.
If the cool fall air makes you hungry you can eat your fill of apple pie in the festival's pie-eating contest at 2 p.m. Sunday.
So bring the family and your appetite and enjoy a day on the Courthouse Square this weekend.
The Cleveland Apple Festival is just one of the many reasons I say Bradley County is Tennessee at its best.