By Terri Allen

The Clay County Golden Delicious Festival is held the third full weekend of September each year. Four days of family fun are planned to celebrate the history of Clay County in being the place where the first golden delicious apple was discovered. Small town charm and friendly volunteers with a love for apples will welcome hundreds of guests for the forty-first annual celebration.

The Golden Delicious Apple Baking Contest will bring apples pies, apple cakes and apple butter as family recipes are put to the test to see if the maker can claim the blue ribbon and prize money. The prizes awarded for 2014 will be as follows: Two-Crusted Pie 1st $150.00 and blue ribbon; Pie 2nd $ 50.00 and a red ribbon; Pie 3rd $25.00 and a white ribbon; Cake 1st $100.00 and a blue ribbon; Cake 2nd $35.00 and a red ribbon and Cake 3rd $20.00 and a white ribbon; Apple Butter 1st $50.00 and a blue ribbon; Apple Butter 2nd $30.00 and a red ribbon; and Apple Butter 3rd $20.00 and a white ribbon. All entrants must be from Clay County; the entry must include golden delicious apples and entries must be submitted in a disposable container. Registration is Saturday, September 20th from 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. After the judging is completed, the doors will open at 11:30 so anyone can drop by the Lions Club to sample a sweet way to enjoy “An apple a day, the Clay County Way”. Debbie McKinney, owner of Deb’s Creative Cakes, has volunteered as the baking contest hostess for several years. If someone has questions, please call her at 304-587-7476.

The Apple Dash is a 5K run that is celebrating its 10th year on the festival schedule. Doug and Tracy Wayne stepped up to manage the event last year and saw several runners added to the roster. Since last year they have re-worked the race to include the best of what had been done in past years and they are working to bring new ideas and prizes to the finish line this year. The race includes a tri-fecta of racing challenges including pavement, dirt road, and a rail trail while providing a scenic adventure along the banks of the Elk River. The full course details are available on the festival website at www.claygoldendelicoiusfestival.com. The registration fee is $15.00 and the first 50 registrants will receive a free custom event t-shirt at the race. Registration will take place on Sunday, September 21st at 8:00 a.m. at the Clay Health Department. The race will start at 9:00 a.m. at the starting/ finish line in front of the Clay Health Department. Runners under age 18 will need a parent/guardian at registration.

The Youth Art Auction showcases the talented art skills of Clay County High School students. Under the leadership of their teacher, Connie Kerr, students are encouraged to create a piece of art to be auctioned at the festival. A small percentage of each sale goes to the Art Department to cover the cost of supplies and frames, a small percentage is donated to an Art Scholarship Fund and the remainder of each sale goes to the student artisan. Each piece of art is judged and ribbons are awarded. Auctioneer Jeannie Davis has volunteered her time to auction off the art for the past 10 years; the auction is always exciting and a fan-favorite event during the festival. The artwork can be viewed by the public in the Clay County Commission room on Saturday, September 20th; the auction takes place after the parade at 2:00 p.m.

The children’s pageant will be held on September 6th at Clay County High School beginning at 10:00 a.m. and continuing until all the groups have competed. There is a small admission fee at the door which covers admission for the entire day. Trophies and crowns will be awarded at the pageant. Winners will be introduced at the festival during opening ceremonies and are invited to participate in the festival parade (pageant and parade applications are available on the festival website).

The festival Facebook blog at Clay Golden- Apple Festival has daily postings about events and sponsors. Claiming nearly 4000 friends the page brings a touch of home to many who are far away and updates those who are nearby. Many of our fans believe that our small town celebration is a reason to take a vacation and come home to Clay. Some will attend the Saturday evening CCHS alumni gathering to find old friends, some will visit family they haven’t seen in years and some enthusiasts will bring their antique car or motorcycle to enter their respective shows. The Clay County Golden Delicious Festival welcomes hundreds of guests every year and while many of them have a family connection to Clay County it remains the largest tourist event in Clay County.