ELKTON — As the colored leaves give way to autumn’s breeze and litter the streets of Elkton, vendors from across the East Coast are congregating to taste the variety of culture that this small town harbors like a poorly-kept secret.
Elkton Autumn Days turns 33 this weekend. Treacly apple dumplings, soothing herbal salves and various quirky crafts are flooding the streets of downtown Elkton today and Sunday.
The Elkton Progressive Improvement Committee hosts the annual event to raise funds for community events and beautification projects.
Three years ago, some original members of EPIC passed the torch onto a group of fresh faces who decided to move the festivities from B Street in front of Elkton Elementary School to West Spotswood Ave. Among the new members behind the change was current town mayor Josh Gooden.
The move has allowed for an expansion in participating vendors, which this year features visitors traveling from Kentucky to Vermont. Gooden, who has attended Autumn Days since he was a kid, said the event has a familial feel that fortifies the bond between community members.
“There’ll be vendors that you make connections with year after year, and it’s almost like a little family reunion for not just the committee with the vendors, but citizens and residents as well,” Gooden said.
Friday was “Music Jam” day, but bands are lined up to play all day today and 12-4 p.m. on Sunday.
Traditionally, Christy Teter, owner of Taylor Made Organics, stocks her naturopathic, therapeutic skincare products at Sue’s Super Nutrition and Valley Pike Farm Market. Last year, she debuted her products at a booth for the first time at Elkton’s Autumn Days, so she said the festival weekend holds a special place in her heart.
“We had an exceptional experience not only with the people. I mean, I should say the people in general, but with the sales and just the whole community environment was exceptional,” Teter said. “The community coming out to support small businesses is huge.”
Barbara Alshefski, the creator behind Barb’s Crafts and More, said the event is a huge display of regional craftsmanship, but what she most looks forward to are the aromatic and tantalizing sweets.
“There’s like a ton of food, and I didn’t get to the apple dumplings fast enough last year, but I heard the apple dumplings are amazing. That’s going to be one of my first things on Saturday — is walking to find out where they are, and I’m trying to get one before they’re sold out,” Alshefski said.
Alshefski also returns as a vendor for her second year at the weekend celebration of arts and flavors to sell festive centerpieces like patterned pumpkins, decorative elaborate wreaths and holiday arrangements.
Building Blocks Children’s Center has had the apple dumpling stand at the fair for nearly 10 years. Parents spend the previous two days leading up to Autumn Days baking over 700 of the sticky pastries. Teresa Lam, program director of the preschool, said the proceeds benefit Mt. Olive Brethren and will help pay for fencing and added security for the playground area.
The Junior Order of United American Mechanics also hosts their annual Fall Festival & Flea Market this weekend. Starting at 9 a.m., classic fair grub like fried ham, cheeseburgers and apple butter are on sale to keep you warm and raise money for various neighborhood services like furnishing the Little League baseball field.
The 33rd Annual Elkton Autumn Days starts at 10 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m. tonight, 4 p.m. on Sunday. Today is promising better weather, so if you plan to attend on Sunday, pack an umbrella.