Next weekend’s Salvation Army Applefest makes an even dozen for the local agency

Telegraph file photo by ADAM URQUHART An assortment of newly painted pumpkins dry in the foreground while young artists create a new batch during last year's Applefest, a Salvation Army fundraiser that takes place this year on Oct. 5-6 at Sullivan Farm.

Wouldn’t it be really cool to have the opportunity to take a walk around the only remaining working farm in Nashua, and along the way take a pony ride, go on a hayride, pick some apples, do some apple-related crafts, check out a coffee vendor and qualified “nut vendor,” listen and maybe dance to live music and top it all off with some of the best apple pie a la mode around?

Well, that opportunity is yours, and all you need to do is drive over to Coburn Avenue and pull into Sullivan Farm anytime between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. either Saturday or Sunday – or both, if you wish.

That’s where you’ll find the Salvation Army’s Applefest, the agency’s annual fall event that – pardon the cliche – is putting the “fun” in “fundraiser” for the 12th year.

In keeping with the tradition of “trying to add something new every year,” Salvation Army director of development Amie Groff said organizers are bringing in a petting zoo, thanks to the folks at the Carriage Shack Farm in Londonderry, who will also be doing the pony rides.

Another new twist involves replacing pumpkin painting with apple crafts, which seem to bring a wider variety of possibilities for non-crafters and more experienced creators alike.

And there will also be booths set up for visitors who prefer to bring home craft items created by those clever folks who have been doing crafts for years and always seem to come up with new and unique items.

A group of boy scouts will be on hand to chat with visitors about the organization, while students and instructors from Tokyo Joe’s Studios of Self-Defense, which teaches martial arts, kickboxing and mixed martial arts, will perform demonstrations at different times throughout the two days.

A cider press will be in operation, where visitors can watch the process then sample the cider straight off the press.

As they’ve done pretty much since the inception of Applefest a dozen years ago, representatives of Nashua Fire Rescue, Nashua Police Department and American Medical Response will be there with their respective vehicles to give visitors a chance for an up-close look at the cars and trucks we usually see for only a few seconds as they zip by headed to an emergency.

As any observer who was around for Applefest’s debut a dozen years ago can tell you, attendance has grown exponentially from year to year, at first numbering a few hundred, then many hundreds, and now well into the thousands.

That of course means the many volunteers who make Applefest work are busier than ever, but they’ll be the first to tell you “the busier, the better.”

That’s because they know that the proceeds from Applefest allow the Salvation Army to help more and more of our neighbors and members of the community who struggle financially, especially with the arrival of the holiday season.

Groff estimated Applefest proceeds helped out more than 750 individuals and families last Christmastime, and also helped bolster programs such as its food pantry, emergency assistance fund and the various children’s programs the agency runs.

As for what many visitors call the best exhibit of all – the fresh apple pies topped with none other than Hayward’s ice cream – make sure you buy a hamburger or hot dog or two first from the hard-working cooks.

Dean Shalhoup’s column appears Sundays in The Telegraph. He may be reached at 594-1256, dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com or@Telegraph_DeanS