The Apple Festival of Kendallville began in 1985, the vision of four local organizers, Gary and Kay Shepherd, Barb Kelley, and Kathy Baker, who wanted their small town to have a festival. They began with a budget of $5,000 and had to encourage crafters to take part. The Lion's Club was the first food vendor to sign-on and that first year there were only six antique dealers on the festival grounds. At one point the group wondered just who would show up, as it seemed most of the town was working at the event. Much to their relief, when that weekend finally arrived, a steady stream of visitors pulled into the Noble County Fairgrounds. The cars have been coming ever since.
Over the years the festival continued to grow, branching out into different areas, each section headed up by a team of volunteers. A large children's area with games, activities, crafts and rides was added. There is also a primitive village, two demonstration buildings, a Civil War encampment and entertainment all over the grounds. Today the budget runs more than $80,000, and the festival hosts some 70,000 visitors. Nearly one hundred crafters sell their wares at the Apple Festival and the antique dealers fill the Merchant's Building.
The Apple Festival Committee has grown from those first four brave souls to 40 caring volunteers who strive to maintain the quality and affordability of this period festival. The mission of the Apple Festival is the same today as it was in 1985, to Entertain and educate visitors about our American Heritage.