The countdown to Harcourt Applefest is on

It’s nearly here – the 2024 Harcourt Applefest bringing a day of fun, creativity and entertainment as a district celebrates its heritage and all that it has to offer today. 

Be at James Park in Harcourt from 10am-3pm on Saturday March 9 and experience what a great day out with family and friends is all about! 

A $5 entry fee per adult (children free) includes entertainment, a fabulous market, the best of apple produce and so much more … 

The art show 

This is an art show that is the essence of the Harcourt Valley. The Harcourt Applefest Art Show is an intimate and distinctive exhibition for smaller works. 

The exhibition and sale of high-quality original art has become central to the festival. With awards and acclaim to be won, the show has a history of impressive entries and esteemed exhibitors. 

Your Applefest ticket grants every Applefest-attendee access to the works on display at the ANA Hall. 

The grand opening and awards night will be held on the Friday night before Applefest. Artworks will remain on display for Applefest celebrations and throughout the Labour Day long weekend. 

The cooking comp 

Test your baking and chutney making skills alongside the region’s best. 

Applefest has an excellent cookery competition. While apple pie gets the headlines, there are also categories for best apple cake, apple muffins and preserves, too. 

Entries need to be delivered to the Fruit Growers’ Tent by 10.30am on the day. Judging will take place at 11am, with winners announced on the main stage at 1.25pm. 

There is no entry fee, but unlimited glory to be won by both adult and junior bakers. 

The Lego comp 

One of the reasons why Lego is so popular is because it is so versatile and enjoyable for all ages. You are only limited by your imagination and can build models just for the fun. 

You can take apart whatever you build and rebuild it another day as something completely different. Adults or children of different ages can sit and play altogether. So join the the Applefest Lego competition. 

The pie eating 

Apple pie is a much-loved and anticipated treat that everyone looks forward to at Applefest. 

The apple pie eating competition is a fun, gloriously messy, and light-hearted experience for spectators and participants alike. Curious about the rules? Just go along on the day and get stuck in. 

This year, there will be three categories for participants – primary school, secondary school and open. 

To enter: you will see a place near the main stage to register around eating time which will be from 12.55pm on the main stage. 

The Market 

The bustling market will begin at 10am. There’ll be plenty of arts, makers and plant stalls from the local area along with local produce, tasty food, and wine to enjoy. 

Entertainment is headlined by Duck Cameron the Conjurer – Master Magician – with two shows (noon and 2.30pm) and Wendy Stapleton’s Australian Women’s Choir (1.35pm), with plenty of other local talent on display throughout the day. 

A little history 

As Harcourt comes together to celebrate the district with the annual Applefest as it has since 1991, it’s worth taking time to find out why – apart from the excuse of a great, fun day out of course! 

The first orchards were planted out in 1857 by William Eagle, William Ely, Henry Ely and Nathanael Vick and within years, the fruit was being exported to England. they were following on from what Samuel Sutton had discovered a few years earlier: the fertile sandy granitic soils, the climate and water supply made the Harcourt Valley perfect for apple growing. 

Today, despite a slump in the industry because of the loss of export markets in 1962 three are still hundreds of hectares of apple orchards across the Harcourt district. About 40 per cent of Victoria’s apples are grown in Harcourt. 

The Old Calder, Danns Road, Reservoir Road and above McIvor Road are where people will find large orchard acreages. The biggest wholesale growers in Australia, W F Montague and Geoffrey Thompson, grow apples in Harcourt. 

Some apple varieties grown in Harcourt include pink lady, royal gala, fuji, sundowner, red delicious and granny smith. 

The new season’s apples are usually available to buy around the time of the Harcourt Applefest. 

Ode to Dusty 

Beloved Australian singer, songwriter and actress, Wendy Stapleton, will present her outstanding tribute to the songs and career of Dusty Springfield as part of a special performance at this year’s Harcourt Applefest. 

Dusty Springfield, Britain’s greatest female pop singer, enjoyed a 35-year career in music because of her unique heartbreaking voice, and her unfailing belief in songwriters such as Carol King, Gerry Gollin, Randy Newman, John Kander, Burt Bacharach and Hal David just to name of few. 

Starring Wendy Stapleton as Dusty and featuring fabulous musical theatre singer/dancers and musicians, this unique show takes you on a colourful journey through all the hits of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s that made Dusty a household name. 

This show is the original production that has delighted audiences all around Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. 

As an added bonus, Wendy Stapleton’s Australian Women’s Choir will also be among the performers on the Applefest Main Stage during the Saturday March 9 festival extravaganza. 

Tickets to the show at Harcourt’s ANA Hall, 7 High Street, 7pm- 9.30pm are $30 (children under 16 free) and can be purchased at 

Castlemaine Mail
Your source of independent local news in the Mount Alexander Shire.