Five fall festivals you might not know about in northeast Indiana

If you live in Fort Wayne, you probably know about its annual Johnny Appleseed Festival in September that draws thousands of visitors to celebrate the local legend.

But the Summit City isn't the only place to ring in the fall season. If you take a short drive to one of Fort Wayne's regional cities, you might discover a new annual tradition.

Here are five regional fall festivals to add to your calendar this year.

1. Kendallville Apple Festival

Apple Fest in Kendallville is another way to ring in the fall season with apple treats.

Johnny Appleseed isn’t the only apple-themed fall festival in northeast Indiana. Since 1985, Kendallville’s Apple Festival has been bringing crafts, rides, activities, and food to the Noble County Community Fairgrounds. It began as the vision of four local residents to bring a festival to their small town with crafts, antiques, and food from the Lion’s Club. Over the years, it has grown into a regional attraction that celebrates American heritage and draws some 70,000 visitors region-wide.

Along with food and crafts, Apple Festival offers a large children's area, a primitive traders village, demonstration buildings, a Civil War-era encampment, and entertainment on three stages.

“Nearly 100 crafters sell their wares at the festival and antique dealers fill the Merchant's Building,” its Facebook page says.

Fall pumpkins and crafts are another popular feature of Apple Fest.

On top of that, 90 percent of its food vendors are non-for-profit organizations that give back to the Kendallville community.

The song on the festival's website says it all: "There's caramel apples and candy corn, sweet apple dumplin's in the cool crisp morn'... Run or skip, just do your best, join in with us at the Apple Fest!"

Oct 5-6, 2019
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
580 Fair St. Kendallville, IN 46755


2. Hippie Festival in Angola

Hippie Fest is all about spreading peace, joy, and love.

Move over, Woodstock! Hippie Fest is a touring event that stops in the laketown of Angola, bringing a fun, free-spirited way to celebrate peace, love, and all things groovy in northeast Indiana.

The family-friendly, all-ages festival will take guests back to the 60's and 70's with live music, dancing, group camping, bohemian shopping, a vintage hippie car show, delicious food, and lots of tie-dye. As an added bonus, you can savor the fall spirit over a campfire with friends.

Hippie Fest offers guests the opportunity to camp onsite.

Fire pits will be available and charcoal grills are allowed for camping. Just be sure to purchase your camping tickets ahead of time to reserve your spot. Kids 10 and under free. It's groovy baby!

Sept. 14-15, 2019
12 p.m.-7 p.m.
2705 West Buck Lake Road, Angola, IN 46703


3. Chainsaw Festival at Moose Lake

Moose Lake has the region's largest selection of Amish goods.

Less scary than it sounds, the Chainsaw Festival is a chance to explore the works of master craftsmen who turn logs into artistic sculptures. The Chainsaw Festival features wood-carved creations.

The event takes place at historic Moose Lake, an 1800's Christian Craft Village with an old school general store. On top of that, it has the region's largest selection of Amish goods and a manmade five-acre lake stocked with 20,000 trophy-sized fish. 

Along with fishing, the lake is ideal for sunbathing, swimming, kakaking, paddle boating, canoing, and even bicycling on the water. Each September, the Chainsaw Festival invites guests to tour the quaint village in horse-drawn carriages, enjoy live music, experience Sorin' Hawks's Birds of Prey demonstrations, browse handmade crafts, and of course, taste specialty foods and local ice creams. Yum!

Sept. 21, 2019
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
11330 E 500, South LaOtto, IN 46763


4. Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival in Huntington

You can find apples and other local foods and crafts at the Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival.

Journey back to simpler times at the 44th annual Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival in Huntington complete with 1800's-era re-enactors. The festival entertains guests with military drills on horseback, handmade craft goods, and food prepared over open fires. But this festival does more than celebrate pioneer life; it also champions the "pioneering spirits" who created the innovations that brought us engines, tractors, bicycles, and motorcars—all of which will be on display through the festival grounds at Hier's Park and the adjoining Huntington County Fairgrounds.

Shop local crafts at the Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival.

Be sure to come early on Sunday at 9 a.m. for an old-time worship service before the festival opens. Proceeds from Forks of the Wabash will support local charities and historic preservation projects in the Huntington community.

Sept. 28, 2019, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sept. 29, 2019, 10 am.-5 p.m.
631 East Taylor Street Huntington, IN 46750


5. Decatur Highland Games

At the Decatur Highland Games, athletic competitions range from a Hammer Throw to a Caber Toss and the Putting of the Stone (similar to shot put).

What started as a private event held by the Hamilton Family of Decatur has evolved into a county-wide celebration of Scottish and Celtic culture. You have to be an Adams County resident to compete in the Highland Games.

The Decatur Highland Games, which began in 2017, are held on the first Saturday in October each year, with event qualifiers in August. Both men and women are invited to compete in the athletic competitions that range from a Hammer Throw to a Caber Toss and the Putting of the Stone (similar to shot put).

All competitors must be residents of Adams County, but you don't have to be a resident to come out and cheer on the champions. The Games are a family-friendly event at Riverside Park, complete with food and drink vendors, kids' games, fireworks, and live music from a bagpipe band. But the dress of the day is Celtic attire, so be sure to wear your kilt!

October 5th, 2019
11:30 a.m. Opening Ceremonies begin at noon
231 East Monroe St., Decatur, Indiana

At Decatur's Highland Games, men and women alike wear kilts.

Read more articles by Kara Hackett.

Kara Hackett is a Fort Wayne native fascinated by what's next for northeast Indiana how it relates to other up-and-coming places around the world. After working briefly in New York City and Indianapolis, she moved back to her hometown where she has discovered interesting people, projects, and innovations shaping the future of this place—and has been writing about them ever since. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @karahackett.
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