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APPLE FEST SEEKS TO TOP '97 ATTENDANCE OF 45,000 DESPITE HIKE IN FEE

If the weather is fine, organizers of Niagara's Apple Country Festival hope to match or better last year's two-day attendance total of 45,000.

The sixth annual event will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 10 and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 11 at the Niagara County Fairgrounds, 4487 Lake Ave.

The event is sponsored and organized by the Eastern Niagara Chamber of Commerce. Paul DePlato is general chairman of the festival.

Chamber president David R. Kinyon noted that the admission fee will be increased this year from $1 to $2, but he said he didn't think that would impact attendance.

"We basically have more to offer," Kinyon said. "We also have to cover our overhead."

The Chamber rents the Fairgrounds from Cornell Cooperative Extension and also must pay for advertising, the use of tents, and other expenses.

If the festival makes a profit, it is applied to the Chamber's Niagara, Canal, and Lake Country promotion efforts, Kinyon said.

The festival has run in the black since its third year of existence, making a profit of about $12,000 a year, he said.

A preview event, called the Apple Kitchen, sponsored by Tops Markets, will be held at the fairgrounds from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 8.

Other events at the festival will include the third annual Apple Country Cookbook Recipe Contest, with entries judged before the festival by the festival committee. Three winners will be named.

Tops Apple Kitchen Recipe Contest was organized through Niagara County middle and high schools. Cash prizes will be awarded to schools whose students submitted the best baked apple dishes, and Darien Lake tickets will go to the winning students.

A 4-H Youth Cooking Contest is slated for the second day of the festival. Competitors ages 8 to 19 will offer 40- to 45-minute silent cooking demonstrations, and then will be judged on the tastiness of the dish they've prepared. All entries must contain at least one cup of Niagara County apples.

Throughout the two days, there will be a juried arts and crafts show and sale, pony rides, a petting zoo, and vast amounts of apples, other local farm produce, including what organizers boast is the world's largest cider barrel, and other foods.

A chicken and biscuit dinner will be served starting at 11 a.m. the first day of the festival, and on the second day a Chiavetta's chicken barbecue will be offered, starting at 11:30. Both meals will continue until the chicken is sold out.

Kids' games, face painting, story telling, and a scarecrow village maze will also be set up.

Over 100 volunteers will work at the festival.

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