Family, friends, and fun: Reid's Apple Festival returns this weekend

Francisco Galindo, of Casey’s Rides, Inc., of Utica, secures the seats in the Dragon Wagon roller coaster Thursday during the setup for the Reid’s Apple Festival at Reid’s Orchards. The Reid’s Apple Festival will return after a one-year break from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

A crowd favorite returns this weekend.

Reid’s Apple Festival at Reid’s Orchard will return after a one year break from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

This year will celebrate the 36th festival, after calling it off last year due to a pandemic.

“It was strange not having it last year,” said Billy Reid, owner of Reid Orchards. “Everybody was shut down. But, we knew we couldn’t have it because too many people would have been in here. It was just like everybody else that had festivals or events — it had to be shut down … for the safety of people.”

The festival has been canceled once before 2006 due to flooding in the guest parking area, but Reid is keen on returning to some normalcy.

“We’re trying to get back on schedule,” Reid said. “It’s a great time to get your family out and ... just to see all the friends. There’s a lot of people who haven’t seen (each other) because they’ve been quarantined or stayed in the house.”

Reid said that about 20 food booths are returning, while they have reduced the number of craft booths due to social distancing.

“We probably cut back, maybe 15% less craft booths so we can spread them out a little more,” Reid said. “Probably around 85 (booths) is what we’re up to this year.”

Casey’s Rides, a local family business that has been with the festival from the very beginning in 1986, will continue to supply over 20 carnival rides for the children while live music entertainment will continue throughout the day.

“It’s just kind of an old-county-fair atmosphere,” Reid said. “What’s kind of unique is that the guys love to come and eat because (there’s) a lot of different food, the ladies … come because they like to shop for all the craft booths, and the kids love the playground and the carnival rides. It’s something for all the families.”

Due to COVID-19 concerns and precautions, Reid has spread out picnic tables and has more hand washing stations scattered throughout the festival in order for attendees to have a piece of mind.

“(We’re) trying to let people feel comfortable and move around,” Reid said. “We just want people to feel safe. If you don’t feel like coming, we understand. But, people are just wanting to get out and enjoy the fall.”

While the festival typically has over 20,000 people attend, Reid is uncertain he will see those numbers but remains optimistic considering the traffic the orchard has seen as of late and being an outdoor event.

“We really don’t know,” Reid said. “We see a lot of younger people coming each weekend here, just for the kids. Maybe the older ones in my generation might hesitate. But, a lot of people have the vaccine, so they feel safer with the vaccine. It really depends how you feel and how much you want to be around people. But, it’s an open area — we try to keep it open as much as we can.”

While nothing new is being introduced to the festivities this year, Reid has focused on expansion.

“The (‘Reidland’) playground is getting bigger,” Reid said. “It’s been there for about five years but we keep enlarging it.”

The events building has also added a larger picnic area for the festival to space families out and to have more room to accommodate entertainment.

Reid and his family enjoy putting the festival on and hope people come out before seeing drops in the temperature.

“We just enjoy the fall. We have all our customers that come in year-round. It’s the end of the season, end of the harvest time, and the weather is what brings people out here,” Reid said. “In a couple weeks, with the time change, we kind of just go in the house and stay there in the winter time.”

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