Apple Festival Benefits Local Economy
Signs are popping up all over Hendersonville advertising the arrival of the North Carolina Apple Festival.
The city is making room for about 250,000 visitors over the weekend. All that foot traffic isn't just benefiting local apple growers; the festival has a huge impact on the local economy.
For the first time last year, festival organizers hired an Asheville firm to survey attendees to find out where they came from and how much they're spending while here.
"Today we're really busy," David Nicholson said, Executive Director of the festival. "Tonight, we'll start setting up the vendors, we'll have 250 vendors across the street so it will be really crazy for a couple hours this evening."
Last year, the Apple Festival showed its loyalty to the community by adding nearly $12.5 million to the local economy.
Sherry Norris, owner of Vermontage along Main Street, says she's working on the right recipe to get those visitors through her doors. Norris unveiled her apple ice cream last year, a huge hit with festival attendees, and brought it back again. This time, improving the recipe to get just the right apple pie flavor.
"I had a line of people being served and somebody had to be here all the time serving ice cream, so it was very busy," Norris said.
The Labor Day weekend rush couldn't time out better at her shop.
"The extra money kind of gets us through, gives us a little buffer zone to help us pay our bills in January and February."
Other shops down Main Street participated in the window decorating competition. Although Barbara Hughes, owner of Narnia Studios, says she has never won the competition in the last 20 years she's been there, but always participates.
"I keep doing it because it's part of being a merchant and part of being in the community," Hughes said. "It's great for us and it's great to showcase the town. We have the most beautiful town in the entire world and the friendliest city in America."
According to the Looking Glass survey, folks averaged about $70 per person during their trip last year. The survey also finds visitors are more likely to spend money throughout the county than locals. Tourists account for $10 million of the total money spent.
By: Hope Hanselman. Follow Hope on Twitter @HopeNews13