This time of the year signals a "second season" of festivals here in the Ohio Valley.
Gone are the summer's days and nights of fried foods, carnival rides and tractor pulls, but it's certainly not the end of festivities in the Tri-State Area.
With the cooler, shorter days come several festivals - some held in honor of the harvest season, others looking back at history. But whatever their theme, each of the area's festivals offers the opportunity to spend an enjoyable afternoon or evening with friends and family members.
This weekend, for instance, Smithfield will host its annual Apple Festival today through Sunday. Today's events will include the opening ceremonies and the crowning of the apple princess; Saturday's events will include a car show, apple pie baking contest and parade; and Sunday's events will include a Big Wheel race, as well as the popular Great American Bed Race.
Also on Saturday and Sunday, the American Indian Heritage Festival is scheduled to be held at the Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village in Avella.
There's also the upcoming Follansbee Christmas in the Park festival, slated for Oct. 13-14, that will offer visitors a variety of fall- and Christmas-themed items for sale as well as an assortment of food and activities. It will be held at Follansbee Park behind Follansbee Middle School on state Route 2.
A variety of handmade crafts and hot and cold food will be sold at the park, which will be decorated with Christmas lights, bows and other decorations.
This festival is a chance for visitors to shop early for Christmas gifts and decorations, and children can get an early visit with Santa Claus.
Downtown Wellsburg will come alive Oct. 5-7 when the city presents its 34th Applefest. Visitors can expect to find a variety of food and crafts, live entertainment and apples served in many ways. There will be plenty of activities for children and an apple pie bake-off.
Organizers say Wellsburg's connection to apples goes back more than 200 years when the first tree bearing the Grimes Golden variety of the fruit was planted on a farm off state Route 27. According to legend, the seeds were provided by Johnny "Appleseed" Chapman.
Hickory, meanwhile, will hold its annual apple festival Oct. 6-7.
Also, area residents will be able to take a step back in time Oct. 12-14 when the Algonquin Mill Festival is held in Carrollton. A pioneer village is the setting for the event, which will feature food, an antique print shop and a one-room school house among its attractions.
And a tradition that started more than 30 years ago in Unionport will be renewed Oct. 20-21 when the annual Apple Stirrin' event is held. Sponsored by Unionport Grange 2728, an apple baking contest will be among the highlights of the festival, as well as apple butter prepared over an open fire - always a best-seller.
While it is not possible to highlight every festival and event planned during the next few months, we are confident that there is something scheduled that will appeal to just about everyone.