It wasn't quite 10 a.m. Saturday -- the time Reid's Orchard's 34th annual Apple Festival was supposed to start.

But there were already several hundred vehicles parked in the field.

And the festival was in full swing.

"It starts early," Billy Reid, whose family owns the orchard on Kentucky 144 near Thruston, said as he hurried around the festival grounds.

"The St. Pius X cooking team got here at 5:30 to start cooking," he said. "The vendors got here at 6 a.m. to start setting up their booths. And people started arriving around 9:30 a.m."

Reid said, "The weather is beautiful this weekend. People like getting out on fall days like this. It won't be long before it starts getting dark so early."

Temperatures climbed into the 70s Saturday under sunny skies.

And the National Weather Service is predicting the same for Sunday.

Reid said the Daviess County Pork Producers have been cooking porkburgers and pork chop sandwiches since 1986, the year the festival began.

Members of the cooking team said they normally sell between 7,000 and 8,000 sandwiches over the two-day festival.

That's about the same as they sell at the International Bar-B-Q Festival.

The Apollo High School FFA has been selling bean soup and cornbread for $3 in a little building in the orchard for years.

Debbie Muse, FFA adviser, said she's not sure how long they've been making bean soup for the Apple Festival.

"But it's been a long time," she said.

This year, they've made 80 gallons of soup.

"We use 40 pounds of beans," Muse said. "I can't remember how much of the other ingredients."

Danny and Paula Lucas, who own Mom's Kitchen in Fordsville, have been selling baked goods at the festival for eight years, they said.

They have 10 or 11 different kinds of pie, eight types of bread, plus cookies and cakes at their stand.

Martin Hayden said the Daviess County Cattlemen's Association has been selling steak sandwiches at the festival "for 12 to 15 years, maybe more."

They expect to sell 2,000 to 2,500 sandwiches this year, he said.

But there are newcomers too.

Larry Johns of Henderson brought his Anna Marie's Walking Taco truck to the festival for the first time.

"This is our first time here," he said. "I've been hearing about this festival for years and we decided to come."

Johns said, "We're at the barbecue festival and Friday After 5. Those are both great. We're looking forward to next year."

Reidland, the orchard's children's area, had pony rides, a maze and other attractions for kids.

Armbands good for all day are $5.

Mechanical bull rides are also $5.

Bryson and Caitlin Morrow brought their daughter, Nyla, to the festival for the second time.

But the toddler has already been to Reidland twice this fall, her mother said.

Caitlin Morrow said her favorite thing about the festival is the food.

"I like the growth of the festival," Bryson Morrow said. "There's a lot going on out here. I remember coming out here when I was a kid to ride the Scrambler and other rides."

Sue Garrett of Owensboro and her daughter, Carol Jackson, of Newburgh have been coming since the festival began.

"I love the fall feeling," Garrett said. "I always get apples while we're here."

Jackson said she lived in Memphis for 10 years, but always made the five-hour drive home to go to the festival with her mother.

It's a family tradition, she said.

Last year, an estimated 23,000 people from several states attended the festival.

Hours are from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 20.

There are more than 100 craft booths and 20 or more food vendors, along with music and carnival rides.

There is no admission charge, but it costs $5 to park.

This year, Girls Inc., the Owensboro High School ROTC and the Apollo High School FFA will park the cars and split the parking money.

Reid's Orchard is one of Daviess County's oldest businesses.

Billy Reid's great-grandfather, Allan Reid, planted the first trees there in 1873.

For more information, visit reidorchard.com.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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