Here’s a few things to know before heading to Ward-Meade for the 38th annual Apple Festival

It’s here. Apple cider doughnut season has arrived, or as most people refer to it: fall.


One of the biggest fall events of the season is the 38th Annual Apple Festival, Saturday, Sept. 30, and Sunday, Oct, 1, at Old Prairie Town at the Ward-Meade Historic Site, 124 N.W. Fillmore St. Thousands of people flock to the park grounds and enjoy the various apple-themed treats and learn a few new skills from the pioneer days.

Here’s a few things to know before hitching up your wagon and heading out for the day.

1. Apple cider doughnuts are basically the epitome of fall

For those (like myself) who were previously unfamiliar with the delicious fried goodness that is a cider doughnut, they’re essentially apple cider baked into traditional doughnut recipes. Rolled in nutmeg and cinnamon sugar, they’re seriously perfection in doughnut form.

For the annual festival, organizers order 50 dozen doughnuts from Rees Fruit Farm — split into two days, these delicacies are usually the first to sell out. Also provided are apple fritters, caramel and traditional apple pies, apple turnovers, apple cobbler, apple sauce, and tons of other goodies for visitors — both with and without apples.

2. The Apple Festival has expanded

New this year, the festival is merging with Wheatstock — now in its 13th year — for two days of festive fall fun. Wheatstock was previously held in June, but after competing with an influx of summer events, organizers decided it would be best for both the folk festival and plans to expand the Apple Festival if the two merged.

Wheatstock is taking over the entertainment tent in Old Prairie Town and will provide entertainment throughout the day, both days of the festival. For a lineup, visit

3. Ticket prices have changed

Well, sort of. Advance tickets are still the same for daily attendance, but this year there’s a special offer for buying a 2-day advance pass, saving $4. Day-of tickets are $7 per day, and a one-day advance pass is $5. The age for children to get in free has also changed. Formerly, those 12 and under got in free, this year the age is 5 and under. Advance tickets are available at Dillons, The Mulvane General Store at Old Prairie Town, and the Shawnee County Parks and Recreation Administration Annex.

4. The period dress was a later addition to the festival

Locals are familiar with the historic site and Old Prairie Town — a short street of 19th century buildings that have been moved to the site — and the accompanying mansion and botanical gardens. But for those not aware of the history of the Apple Festival, it didn’t begin as a day filled with re-enactors.

The first Apple Festival was an auction, explained an organizer. To get rid of surplus merchandise from the summer, the historic site hosted a simple auction and concession stands for guests. Since then, the event has taken off.

Volunteers in period dress dating from the 1880s to 1910 attend the festival and add an air of history to the event. Encampments demonstrating muzzle loading, blacksmiths, organ grinders and even a handcar ride are available for guests. All the buildings in Old Prairie Town are open to the public, and tours are included in the price of admission.

5. A few other odds and ends

As clearly stated on the flyers, pets are not permitted at the festival.

Parking is limited at the site, so shuttle transportation is provided from the Kansas Judicial District at 301 S.W. 10th Ave. All buses run from the south side of 10th Street Parking Lot No. 2, on the north side of the lot. For information, visit the Old Prairie Town page on Facebook, or call (785)251-6989.

Contact reporter Savanna Maue at (785) 295-5621 or @CJFoodFun or @SavannaMaue on Twitter.



10 a.m. — Jim Phelps & Rachel Taylor

11 a.m. — Kyler Carpenter & Friends

Noon — Bill Horn

1 p.m. — Bridges

2 p.m. — Jarrod Guth & Mike Stratton

3 p.m. — Chris Biggs & Steve Hinrichs

4 p.m. — Wood Valley Pickers


10 a.m. — Kyler Carpenter & Friends

11 a.m. — Ben Taddiken

Noon — Rachel Taylor

1 p.m. — Brad Hendrix Band

2 p.m. — Zed Jeplin

3 p.m. — Thorpe & McElroy

4 p.m. — Greg Fox & Ryan Wills