This year marks a special occasion for an event that’s become a beloved fall tradition in Crystal Lake. As the Johnny Appleseed Festival marks its 30th anniversary on Sept. 30, the streets of downtown Crystal Lake come alive for a day of unforgettable fun.
“I think Johnny Appleseed Festival is one of the most wonderful days in Crystal Lake,” says Lynn Reckamp, executive director of Downtown Crystal Lake, which organizes the event.
Nearly 8,500 people turned out for last year’s festival as it spilled across the streets of downtown. Reckamp believes this year could be just as big, as the festival takes up new traditions and refreshes old ones. At the Brink Street Market parking lot, look for family activities including a petting zoo, a bouncy house playground and a variety of children’s games, from ring toss and lollipop pull to apple picking. Last year, volunteers handed out more than 3,500 prizes to children.
Down at Depot Park, look for a craft fair with more than 30 vendors and the McHenry County Historical Society, which brings its old-fashioned apple peelers for hands-on demonstrations.
Entertainment abounds, with live music staged at Depot Park and Brink Street Market and a DJ playing music on Brink Street. A stilt walker gets laughs and a balloon artist surprises children with his creations.
But it’s the namesake of the festival – Johnny Appleseed himself – that really gets the kids talking. Every year, an actor brings to life the American folk hero who’s remembered for planting apple trees on his trek through the American wilderness. Though this actor doesn’t wear the signature mush pan atop his head, he does play the part authentically.
“He truly gets into his character,” says Reckamp.
This year’s 30th annual event runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 30 in downtown Crystal Lake. Parking is free in numerous lots around town.
“The world really needs more Johnny Appleseeds,” says Reckamp. “It’s such a staple in our community. I think people just love it.”
For information, contact Downtown Crystal Lake at (815) 479-0835. or go online to downtowncl.org.