A community celebration

Canal Apple Festival spotlights economic change in Hancock

Canal Apple Festival spotlights economic change in Hancock

September 15, 2005|by KRISTIN WILSON

HANCOCK - The Hancock Lions Club is ready to host the 29th annual Canal Apple Festival, a community celebration organizers say is "like a little hometown reunion."

The Canal Apple Festival, Friday, Sept. 16, through Sunday, Sept. 18, "is a community information and awareness event," explains Fran Shives, chairman of the festival. "The people in Hancock really support the festival. They look forward to this."

The festival has been around long enough to measure some significant economic shifts surrounding the Hancock community, Shives says.

"The Canal Apple Festival ... was first sponsored by the Hancock Grange," he explains. "They started it to promote the C&O Canal and the apple industry, which were both very important to Hancock."


But over the past 30 years the importance of the canal has diminished and the local apple orchards have disappeared due to the rising costs of doing business in agriculture.

"The apple industry is kerplunk," Shives says. "There are spotty orchards here and there, but they're not as big as they used to be."

Hancock organizations and church groups remember the town's orchard past by selling thousands of apple treats and baked goods over the festival weekend. Apple pies, dumplings and turnovers will be available.

Still, the festival remains current as tourism surrounding the C&O Canal is starting to come back with more people taking advantage of the trail systems, Shives says.

The festival will kick off Friday with a dance. The Falling Waters, W.Va.-based band Special Moments will perform "good old rock 'n' roll from the '50s and '60s," Shives says.

On Saturday, a parade with more than 90 entries will march one and a half miles from the east side of Hancock to Widmyer Memorial Park. The arrival of the parade in the park officially kicks off the festival weekend. The Lions Club provides $2,500 in cash prizes to parade participants, Shives says. Groups marching in the parade will be judged in multiple categories and donations are given to many of the high school marching bands that perform in the parade, he adds.

About 75 arts and crafts vendors will be set up in the park along with about 15 food vendors and a number of community nonprofit organizations. On Sunday, festivities will include a baby contest sponsored by the Hancock Lioness Club and a car show.

With an estimated two-day attendance of 8,000 people, the festival "is a good way for local civic organizations to come out and raise awareness for themselves," Shives says. "It's also a good way for residents to be mindful of their own heritage."

If you go ...

WHAT: 29th annual Canal Apple Festival

WHEN: Noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, and Sunday, Sept. 18; kickoff community dance is 9 p.m. to midnight Friday, Sept. 16; parade starts at 11 a.m. Saturday.

WHERE: Widmyer Memorial Park

COST: Free admission; tickets for the dance are $6 per person or $10 per couple.

DIRECTIONS: Take Interstate 70 west toward Hancock.Take the Hancock exit and travel south on U.S. 522 (Warfordsburg Road). Widmyer Park will be on the right.

MORE:Those interested in participating in Saturday's parade must register by calling 301-678-6938.

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