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Applefest blossoms in Mars Saturday

The Mars Stars Jump Rope Team performs within sight of the flying saucer in the park downtown during last year's Mars Applefest. Activities for this year's Applefest will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, and include food, entertainment, vendors, and booths by businesses and nonprofit organizations.
150 vendors plan to attend

MARS — The 30th annual Mars Applefest promises to be bigger and better than ever.

Applefest will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday on Pittsburgh Street and Grand Avenue in Mars.

Dutilh United Methodist Church will hold an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast from 7:30 to 11 a.m. at the New Day Campus on Pittsburgh Street.

The menu will feature pancakes, sausage from Dave's Meats, coffee and juice.

Gary Weston, who coordinates Applefest for the Rich-Mar Rotary Club, said the fall family festival has attracted 150 vendors this year.

About 125 vendors packed Grand Avenue and Pittsburgh Street last year.

Shoppers can get a jump on their Christmas lists at the dozens of upscale arts and crafts booths, which will offer creations of every kind.

Growling stomachs can be sated at one of the festival's many food vendors.

A variety of festival foods, such as hot sausage, hamburgers and hot dogs, will be available for noshing, Weston said.

Asian food and upscale pizza also will be available this year.

Old Union Presbyterian Church members will once again whip up hundreds of homemade apple dumplings, which will be sprinkled with cinnamon and served warm with a hearty scoop of vanilla ice cream.

The Old Union dumplings should be scooped up early, because although church members make more than 500 each year, they traditionally run out of the flaky treats at Applefest.

Weston said new Applefest activities this year will include an open yoga class to be held on the stage near Mars Bank. Anyone can participate in the large-scale class.Entertainment that will take the stage this year will be the Dave Whitmire Band, the Greater Cranberry Mens' Barbershop Chorus, Molinaro Music, the Mars Stars Jump Rope Team, the North Star Kids, Steve Statewicz acoustic music, and Dizzy Whoosh.In addition to food, entertainment and shopping, Applefest also serves as a showcase for downtown businesses.Weston said many businesses will offer small freebies or games for children.Many Mars School District sports booster organizations, as well as other community nonprofits, will set up information booths at the event. Those booths frequently offer prizes or children's' games as well, Weston said.“It's a way for businesses to highlight what they do, but in a fun atmosphere,” he said.Weston said Adams Township, which surrounds the borough, helps out by donating its street sweeper each year for cleanup after Applefest.“We used to have a group of guys walking up and down the street with snowblowers and brooms,” Weston said.He said Ed Vogel, a longtime Adams supervisor, also helps by allowing patrons to park at Vogel Disposal on Railroad Street. A shuttle ferries shoppers between the festival and the parking lot every 10 to 15 minutes.The Mars History and Landmark Society will be operating the Mars Shortline Railroad from 1 to 4 p.m., weather permitting, at the historical B&O Train Station at the end of Brickyard Road. Adults and children can ride, and donations will be appreciated.

Weston said the free festival attracts 3,000 to 5,000 people each year, depending on the weather. He said the event will go on rain or shine.“It highlights our small town and helps to put Mars on the map,” Weston said of Applefest. “It also makes people aware of the Mars community who maybe live a little ways outside of it.”

Xavier Milazzo tries to make friends with a cat brought by the Butler County Humane Society to Mars Applefest last year.

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