2018 Olde Tyme Apple Festival - October 6, 20182018 Theme: Our Roots are Here
Our Roots are Here
In celebration of our theme for this year’s festival, “Our Roots Are Here”, we thought it might be interesting to tell everyone about the how and why the Versailles Olde Tyme Apple Festival™ got its’ start. The first Olde Tyme Apple Festival was held on September 17, 1980. It was a joint effort of the Kiwanis Club and The Versailles Area Chamber of Commerce. The festival was started in part to celebrate the town’s two biggest landmarks, the historic courthouse and the Head Orchard’s apple crop.
The Head Orchard was a 400 acre active apple orchard located just south of Versailles. The orchard produced around 45,000 bushels of apples each year depending on the weather conditions. A good year could produce up to 60,000 bushels of apples. When the orchard was first started it had a variety of fruit that included apricot, plum, cherry, peach, and apple trees. After changing owners several times the orchard was stocked with nearly 3,000 apple trees and all of the fruit trees on the property were taken out. When it was time to pick the apples approximately 70 pickers worked at the orchard to hand pick all of the apples in a two month span. After these apples were graded they were packed and shipped to states that included Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, and Tennessee. One of the biggest buyers was Gerber Foods in Arkansas for baby food.
While the orchard isn’t here anymore it left behind a great tradition for the Versailles area that the Versailles Olde Tyme Apple Festival™ helps to celebrate each year.