Mars High School cheerleaders Erin Sweet, left, and Sammy Rumbaugh help serve up apple dumplings during last year's Applefest in downtown Mars. This year's festival will be from be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
MARS — The Rich-Mar Rotary Club will begin its third year of organizing the Mars Applefest by expanding it to allow for 150 vendors. Rotarian Gary Weston said he was forced last year to turn away 25 vendors who wanted to set up at the popular fall festival. So for the 2012 event, which will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday downtown, the festival's northern perimeter has been extended down Grand Avenue to School Street so more vendors can be accommodated. “It gives an opportunity for people who can't afford a $60 booth,” Weston said. “They can have a $15 booth.” He said the smaller spaces are popular among social service groups, churches, scouts, and school groups. Mary Jo Simon, director of the Mars Public Library, said the additional festival space will likely bump up the book sale held during Applefest. The library is in the expanded area on Grand Avenue. “People will begin to get used to coming up this way,” Simon said. She said the library also raffles off children's chairs painted by artists, and welcomes festival-goers into the library that day. Simon takes a stroll to check out the happenings at Applefest, and to peruse the various foods available. “Any kind of junk food is appealing to me,” she said. Weston said he has lined up vendors who will sell hot sausage, Chinese and Italian fare, soft pretzels, French fries, shaved ice, apple treats, and other tempting snacks, “My favorites are the funnel cakes or the kielbasa and sauerkraut sandwiches made by the Valencia Historical Society,” Weston said. The many vendors at the family-oriented festival will offer different crafts, including seasonal and sports-related offerings, jewelry and dozens of handmade items. Games and activities for youngsters will be spread throughout the festival, and various entertainment will take place on the main stage at the park at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Pittsburgh Street. Weston said three bands have been booked for Applefest as have the Northstar Kids, the Mars Jump Rope Team, Cranberry ATA Martial Arts, and other acts and demonstrations. The Rich-Mar Rotary booth will offer free popcorn and balloons to children, a demonstration of the simple water filtration systems the Rotarians have taken to Honduras and the Dominican Republic for the past five years, and information on the Rotary International. A shuttle will be available for visitors from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from the Vogel Disposal parking lot on Brickyard Road to the corner of Marshall and Grand avenues and back. For information on the Applefest, log onto www.marsapplefest.org or e-mail Weston at firstname.lastname@example.org.