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The Lincoln County Apple Festival attracts more than 80,000 visitors to charming downtown Lincolnton every September. Its beginnings weren’t so grand, and the creators would never have imagined what the Apple Festival would eventually become.


The Festival was planted when Home Economics Agent Melinda Houser joined Lincoln County Cooperative Extension. She’d seen a very successful and popular strawberry festival in eastern North Carolina, so why couldn’t Lincoln County showcase apples?

So in September 1972, along with then Agricultural Extension Agent Howard Waynick and local apple growers, the county’s first Apple Festival was held at Boger City United Methodist Church and attracted about 300 visitors.


The next two Festivals were held in the National Guard Armory, including entertainment and exhibits. With attendance and related activities increasing, the need 

for larger facilities prompted a move to West Lincoln High School in 1975, where food and craft vendors participated, along with outstanding local entertainment.


By 1978, word was getting out and the Festival moved to Main Street with approximately 30 booths and an approximate crowd of 8,000. It was that year that the Lincolnton Business and Professional Women’s Club sponsored the first Apple Queen Pageant, selecting a queen to reign over the festival.

An Apple Festival Steering Committee was formed in 1982, and in 1984, the Lincoln County Apple Festival formally incorporated as a non-profit.

In 2014, Cooperative Extension stopped administering the Apple Festival but continues to be an integral part of the festivities continuing their tradition of selling their popular homemade fried pies and whole apple pies, sponsoring an apple recipe contest, and sponsoring Ag City, a vibrant section of the Apple Festival with displays featuring Lincoln County’s agricultural heritage yesterday and today.


In 2018, Hurricane Florence forced a change in tradition. Our reschedule in October was so well received, that we officially changed the date permanently to the third Saturday in October.


Todays apple festival is…

the product of a volunteer board of directors dedicated to the original concept: celebration all that Lincoln County and the region has to offer in a safe, family-friendly atmosphere. The Festival features five local apple growers, a farmer’s market, local talent on two stages, foods that include whole apple pies, kid’s activities, and more than 250 vendors with crafts and exhibits to delight all ages.

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