LENOX -- Following official designation of the Apple Squeeze and Harvest Festival as a state agricultural fair, the 34th annual harbinger of fall is expanding its offerings.
"This opens the door to us to create the Apple Squeeze on a more produce-oriented, more country fair situation down the road," said Ralph Petillo, executive director of the Lenox Chamber of Commerce, sponsor of the street fair held throughout the downtown historic district.
"I've been trying for years to get more agricultural vendors involved," he said. The state designation allows growers that need state approval to sell their wares to participate. It also provides opportunities for state grants to support the event.
The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, rain or shine. The current National Weather Service forecast calls for sunny skies and mild temperatures near 70 for both days.
The goal is to refocus Apple Squeeze into an event reflecting Berkshire Grown fare, Petillo told the Select Board at its most recent meeting.
"It's a positive move," he added, noting that Balderdash Cellars, the new winery based in the former Pittsfield Rye Bakery on East Street, and Hilltop Orchards and Furnace Brook Winery in Richmond will be serving samples and selling wine bottles following license approvals from the Select Board.
The number of participating vendors is up by about 25 percent compared to last September, Petillo said on Wednesday, with 105 booths planned, including some in a new area in the Church Street Cafe parking lot and the adjacent lot serving several merchants.
The streets will be filled with handmade crafts and jewelry, sculptures, and original art works along with textiles, wood carvings, leather goods, and hand-woven clothing. Local restaurants and markets will offer food, beers and delicacies from around the world, while area farmers display the bounties of this year's harvest.
Among new offerings this year are yogurts from Leahy Farm in Lee, organic beef from Elmartin Farm in Cheshire and maple syrup from local producers.
The family-friendly festival includes a Kids Fair sponsored by the Morris Elementary School in Lilac Park all day Saturday, along with hay rides.
Live musical entertainment from 11 to 4 both days sponsored by Berkshire Bank includes an array of local performers. Bootleg, Tom Gizzi, Mountain Breeze, Skinny Janes, Terry a la Berry and Moonshine Holler are among those scheduled for the tent at the corner of Housatonic and Church streets.
Since the Apple Squeeze typically attracts several thousand area residents and visitors over the course of the weekend, it's prime fundraising territory for local school groups and nonprofits.
Among them are the Lenox Memorial High School classes of 2013 through 2016, the Morris School, Berkshire Country Day School, Berkshire Christian School and the Montessori School of the Berkshires. Others include the Lenox Community Center, Shakespeare & Company, the Lenox Library, the BrockTrot, the Berkshire Humane Society, the Sonsini Animal Shelter of Pittsfield, and the Lenox VFW, Historical Society and Land Trust.
To contact Clarence Fanto:
firstname.lastname@example.org or (413) 637-2551.
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto
If you go ...
What: 34th annual Lenox Apple Squeeze
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: Lenox downtown historic district
Information: www.lenox.org (beginning Thursday) or (413) 637-3646.