Economy hurts annual Williston festival (4/9/09)

April 9, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

It looks as if the economic recession will take a bite out of a popular apple orchard’s fall festival this year.

The owners of Adams Apple Orchard & Farm Market are looking into a scaled down version of this year’s 16th annual Fall Festival. According to market co-owner Scott Adams, the economy has caused a significant decrease in sponsorship donations that are used to fund the festival’s free activities.

Unless the Farm Market receives more than $2,000 in sponsorship money in the next few weeks, Adams said the petting zoo and marionette show might not be available. The Fall Festival is scheduled to take place on Sept. 19 and 20.

“A lot of our past sponsors are saying, ‘The economy isn’t stable right now and we can only afford half of what we gave you last year,’” Adams said.

Adams said it costs about $6,000 to put on the festival, which includes free activities such as the petting zoo, a community craft show and cider pressing demonstrations. Other activities, which come at an additional cost, include pony rides, an inflatable playground and apple picking. The Williston School District also holds a wagon ride fundraiser at the event.

Last year, Adams said, money was tight when sponsorships totaled around $5,000. This year, Adams Apple Orchard & Farm Market has raised about $2,500 so far for the event — well below what is needed to book petting zoo animals and other entertainers.

“We have only have half of the money committed right now,” Adams said.

Adams hopes this is a one-time problem for the Fall Festival, and hopes sponsorships will return to normal levels once the economy improves. He said he would have a better idea of what the Fall Festival would look like by the end of the month, with all plans finalized by June.

Adams said the festival is still accepting sponsorships and donations from interested individuals, organizations and businesses. The festival also needs volunteers to help with operations during the September weekend.

If interested in sponsoring or volunteering, contact Adams Apple Orchard & Farm Market at 879-5226 or vtapple@upickvermont.com.