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Apple Festival is a great Gays Mills tradition
AF Thatchmo's Candy
Thatcher had quite a haul of candy from the Apple Festival Parade, and seemed quite serious about discussing it.

GAYS MILLS - After another successful Apple Festival Weekend, I’m feeling about as warm inside as a Styrofoam cup of hot apple cider. 

Apple Festival has always been one of my most favorite events of the year. 

This year marked the first time in the history of the flea market that my Grandpa Ray wasn’t in attendance. Having past away this spring, his presence was sorely missed by many. Yet, his memory was kept alive. His friend J.J. made CDs of his music and blasted it from a small boom box they had at their booth.  Walking into the building where he always sat and played, and hearing him mid-song struck me for a moment, causing me to forget that he has been gone now nearly six months. 

This year. we didn’t set up our own junk stand, but helped out a friend. He is a total trash-to-treasure king and sees potential in just about everything. He witnessed our success the first year we did it and we urged him to come down. The second year, he was still hesitant but warmed up a bit. By the third year, we had stands right across from each other. The last two years we merely helped–this year even more so than before, as his brother was out of town. 

It seems funny to say but selling dusty old barn scraps can be rather thrilling. Especially in the heat of the moment, when people are coming up, asking questions, haggling, and handing over serious cash for things you’d never expect to find anywhere else but at a flea. 

All the while, Thatcher and Waylon made the rounds with Papa, catching carnival rides and eating Gays Mills American Legion French fries–only the finest. 

The hefty dose of sunshine and fresh air delivered courtesy of the perfect Saturday left us all exhausted. We helped to pack up and then limped back to the car–sunburnt, sore, and smiling from the joyous day. 

Driving through Gays Mills during Apple Fest certainly is a sight to behold. The small, sleepy village transforms into a hustling bustling hub of food, vendors, tourists, and a whole lotta Iowa Hawkeye fans. The local bars amp up their offerings and music spills into the streets. Everyone appears to be happy, well fed, and over all riding the high of Apple Fest weekend. 

Gone for now are our days of hitting up Dr. Rumleys Snuff Band or The Freaks of Nature at the local bars during the evenings of the festival. However, we know one day our time will come again, and we can rest assured that Gays Mills will just be as hopin’ and waiting for us then.

For now, we get our excitement in the form of the Apple Fest Parade. And I thought this year was particularly a good one. We managed to get an excellent spot right by the ‘old’ Gays Mills Community Building. It was like it was meant to be and waitin’ for us. In a sea of people it was an empty spot with enough room for our friends and us. 

They had brought their year-and-a-half-old daughter who was but a baby last Apple Fest and didn’t get much out of the parade.

She certainly made up for it this year though. as she scrambled out for candy with the rest of the little hooligans, including my own. 

Even little Waylon got in on the fun, clapping like it was his job. as the marching bands went on by. 

Thatcher tried a new strategy this year, using a small fishing net for his candy. It seemed as though all of the parade floats were aiming to make a hole in one in the little net, because he really came home with a SERIOUS load of treats. Everything from organic pomegranate suckers, to bags of apples, to LandJager sausage sticks. Cowtails, cups, and of course, the ubiquitousBAPI Frisbee. Really, can you even say you’re truly an Apple Fest fan if you don’t have at least two or three BAPI Frisbees?

We are so lucky to have such a wonderful, hard working, and creative village (complete with it’s dedicated citizens) that comes together to create such an event for our corner of the world.

If you’re reading this, and by some wild chance have never been to a Gays Mills Apple Fest, I strongly encourage you to mark your calendars now. It’s ALWAYS the LAST FULL WEEKEND of September, and IT’S one of the best times you can have in Southwest Wisconsin, I promise.