Autumn begins Friday with the biggest celebration of the year in Chilhowie.

The 64th annual Chilhowie Community Apple Festival, taking place Friday through Sunday, features arts & crafts, music, a parade, exhibits, a band festival, and beauty queens with a theme of “Celebrating the Spirit of Community.”

“The festival is a rich celebration of our heritage,” said Mayor Gary Heninger. “While in Chilhowie, I encourage you to take time to browse and enjoy all the events and visit our community as often as possible.”

Contestants for the Apple Festival pageants competed last Saturday and Miss Apple Festival for 2017 will be crowned at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in the football stadium just prior to the band festival.

Vendors with arts & crafts, food and commercial items will be open in Warrior Park in front of the Chilhowie Public Library (the old high school) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, and 12:30-5 p.m. on Sunday.

Exhibits of flowers, horticulture items, canned and baked goods, art and photography, sewing and other crafts will be available in the old high school community building from 12-6 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 12:30-4 p.m. Sunday. Exhibits are to be entered on Thursday between 3 and 7 p.m.

Saturday’s big events include the parade down Lee Highway beginning at 10 a.m. with grand marshal Del. Israel O’Quinn immediately followed by a performance from Simplicity Dance Company, and the afternoon high school band competition in Warrior Stadium beginning at 1 p.m. with bands from around the region competing in the oldest continuous band festival (65 years) in Virginia and Tennessee.

Other highlights during the weekend include the Apple Bowl on Friday at 7 p.m., a contest between Chilhowie and Northwood high school varsity football teams, a youth league football jamboree on Thursday at 6 p.m. at Chilhowie High School, a pet show on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Little League field, and live music from the Chilhowie High School Chords on Friday at 12:30 at the old high school community building and the Crooked Road Cloggers on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the old high school community building.

Attendees may visit the Chilhowie Farmers Market on Thursday, 3-6 p.m., and check out a cruise-in on Main Street Saturday at 5 p.m.

Events will also include the Iron Mountain Tractor Club Antique Tractor and Engine Show at the Chilhowie Commons shopping plaza on Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and children’s activities all weekend at the old high school field.

Admission is free with the exception of the varsity football game and the band festival.

Parade entries are welcome in the divisions of church, civic, youth and commercial. Prizes are $100 for first, $75 for second, and $50 for third in each category except for commercial, where business-sponsored floats will win that amount in advertising in next year’s festival brochure.

Funds raised by the Apple Festival Committee through booths and other fees are used to pay for projects that benefit the community and schools.

“This year’s theme, ‘Celebrating the Spirit of Community,’ reminds us that this festival has its roots and its future in the cooperative efforts of the entire community,” said Rebecca Wilkinson-Smith and Vicki Wilson, festival committee co-presidents. “The success of the festival is a celebration of their combined efforts to provide an enjoyable experience for all those who attend.”

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