OPINION

AppleJack 2021 celebration will extend to October

Nebraska City News-Press

This September, Nebraska City will host the 53rd AppleJack Harvest Festival and organizers are taking a cue from the pandemic to make the celebration more comfortable for everyone.

“Last year, even in the middle of the pandemic, we still held our annual AppleJack Festival, but we introduced some major differences, all with social distancing in mind,” said Nebraska City Tourism and Commerce executive director Amy Allgood. 

“We knew that people were going to come to Nebraska City for apples, cider, pie and the things that go along with AppleJack and we did what we could to control the crowd sizes,” she said.

Those changes included extending AppleJack from one weekend to four.

“We usually celebrate the apple harvest the third weekend in September,” Allgood said. “By moving different aspects of the festival onto the fourth weekend of September and even into October, it really dropped the number of people who came to Nebraska City at one time, even though many of businesses reported an increase in sales overall.”

Tammy Partsch, NCTC Tourism and Promotions Coordinator, said that there was such positive feedback from the idea of an extended celebration that NCTC is planning to do it again.

“Not only were the tourists and visitors able to get around town easier with smaller crowds, but our locals could breathe,” Partsch said. “It’s the best solution for this festival.”

For 2021, there will be three weekends of AppleJack, allowing visitors to select the weekend that works well in their own schedule and also fits their interests.

The first weekend of AppleJack, Sept. 18 and 19, is the Traditional AppleJack weekend. Events include the Fun Run, Extreme Bull Riding, Carnival, Flea Market, Craft and Vendor Shows, the Pancake Feed, the Parade (including the annual Marching Band Competition), Water Barrel Fights, and the River City Classic Car Club Car Show.

Sept.25 and 26 will be the Taste of AppleJack weekend with a focus on food. The Food Truck Street Fair will be downtown on Saturday and the ‘All Things Apple’ Recipe Contest will be at the Arbor Day Farm Historic Barns on Sunday. The contest is open to both those who wish to enter a dish and those who wish to be taste-testers.

The final weekend of AppleJack will be Oct. 2 and 3. This weekend will celebrate Nebraska City’s role as the Home of Arbor Day, as the Nebraska Game and Parks will be in town to commemorate their 100th Anniversary with events and activities at Arbor Lodge State Historical Park.

“Of course, the orchards and retail shops are all open during the week, too, so visitors are welcome any time,” Partsch said.

As activities are finalized, NCTC will continuously update their website with AppleJack information at www.NebraskaCity.com/festivals.