Dover prepares to welcome thousands of apple enthusiastsBy JOHN QUINN
Union Leader Correspondent September 16. 2013 6:27PM
DOVER — Whether they were looking for something with caramel, crisp or cider, about 50,000 people filled the downtown area in search of their favorite apple-related item last fall.
The 29th annual Apple Harvest Day is set for Oct. 5 throughout downtown. The 5th annual 5K road race is scheduled to begin the day — along River Street — at 8:30 a.m., while vendors and entertainment will take over from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The event has grown more popular in the past few years as 30,000 residents and visitors participated in the celebration in 2011 and about 50,000 apple lovers came last year, according to Dan Barufaldi, economic development director for the city.
"I think people who experience it want to come back," Barufaldi said, adding the event brings a lot of revenue and attention to the city.
"The local merchants and downtown businesses thrive on it," Barufaldi said, adding it's a great event for families and people of all ages.
Barufaldi said most people look forward to enjoying their favorite apple treat during the festival.
"I'm a big fan of cider," Barufaldi said, adding a lot of farms around the area press their own cider.
"That is certainly a derivative of the harvest," Barufaldi said.
Others enjoy the annual apple pie competition in hopes of trying a slice of the winner's recipe or take a bite out of one of the many crisp apples offered downtown, according to Michael Mengers, community events manager at the Greater Dover Chamber of Commerce.
Mengers, who said he prefers to enjoy apple crisp with vanilla ice cream at Harvey's Bakery, said he's occasionally tempted to feast upon a caramel apple from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory as long as it features chocolate chips, marshmallows and "the works."
While 50,000 visitors provides a one-day boost, Mengers said the city benefits from the exposure from this and other downtown events all year long.
Mengers said Apple Harvest Day and the annual Cocheco Arts and Seacoast Irish festivals — all of which occur around Henry Law Park — draw attention to the downtown area and inspire many people to return to Dover.
Mengers said organizers hope to attract more music lovers by adding a stage in the Cocheco Courtyard — adjacent to Kelly's Row and Blue Latitudes along Central Avenue.
"We've always under-utilized that stage," Mengers said, adding local musician Martin England was tasked to organize acts to perform in the new venue.
As a result, musicians from the Cocheco Arts & Technology Academy, Chris Canty Band, Shades of Rust, Soggy Po Boys, Gretchen and the Pickpockets and Martin England & the Reconstructed are slated to perform during the day.
"We now have six stages in total — five are music stages," Mengers said, adding this offers a tremendous variety in sound and style.
"Just walking down the street, you can see 10 bands," Mengers said.
Other performances are set to occur at the Rotary Arts Pavilion, Songwriter Stage, Orchard Street Stage, Ross Furniture's North End Kids Stage on Third Street and the McConnell Center Arts Pavilion & Stage on Locust Street.
Meanwhile, families can find a variety of activities at the KidZone — sponsored by Service Credit Union — in Lower Henry Law Park.
Mengers said it's easy to spend hours in the area — which is near the day's largest food court — since there will be about 25 inflatable activities, a roaming train, a traveling barnyard and pony rides. He added the pony and train rides cost $3 and a wristband costs $15 to access many of the inflatable games all day.
For more information, visit www.dovernh.org.