WESTON, Mo. — The smell of apple cider, kettle corn and fall weather filled the air as the 28th annual Weston Applefest kicked off last weekend.
With the parade traveling toward historic downtown, people crowded the sidewalks along Main Street to try and find a good view of the floats and cars that lined the road. Kids spilled out into the street trying to pick up candy and played with bubbles made from the back of a Ford Model A.
After the parade was over, the crowd that had once lined the streets followed the last vehicle toward the arts and crafts booths that sat along the street. Thousands attended the always-popular event, but the Weston Chamber of Commerce estimated almost 35,000 people attended during the two days.
In 2015, officials estimated the crowd at more than 30,000, leading to massive overhauls of the parking system needed to accommodate the seemingly ever-increasing crowd.
Vendors at this year’s Applefest had crafts — such as wooden cutting boards, hand bags, furniture and home décor — along with photographers and painters. Others sold locally produced honey, produce and mini hay bales along with the traditional kettle corn, apple cider and apple dumplings.
Kids had their own activities with pony rides, a straw bale maze, face painters and other games that were set in the Weston City Park near Brills Creek to the west of Main Street.
One stop that many people were gathering around was the Weston Chamber of Commerce tent where they were making and selling apple butter. Locals were taking turns stirring up the large pot of the wood-fired apple butter while talking to those in the crowd about how its made, even letting members of the crowd take the stir stick for a little bit.
“This is one of the events that really draws a crowd every year where we just demonstrate how apple butter is made,” said Brent Newkirk of Weston, Mo., who has volunteered at Applefest for the past two years to be one of the makers of the apple butter. “It’s one of the things where people that walk by, we get them involved and get them to help, just stir the pot both literally and figuratively.
“But people enjoy it; it’s good entertainment and its good fun.”
While the number of people at Applefest just after the parade was a little overwhelming at times, Newkirk wasn’t sure it was quite the same turnout as 2015. However, the numbers produced early this week showed his visual estimate might have been a little off, although he enjoyed himself just the same dealing with the friendly guests.
“So far it looks not near as big as last year, but I’m almost OK with that,” Newkirk said. “With Gladfest going on at the same time and Octoberfest up in Atchison (Kan.), if that makes this crowd a little more manageable that’s fine. It’s going to be a beautiful day today and tomorrow so if we had the crowd like we had last year, it’ll be great.”