The two-week euphoria from the Apple Festival seems to be wearing off now. But, local businesses are still reveling in the economic boost to their businesses from the last two weekends. With the nation in recession and on the verge of “a double-dip” recession, citizens still seem to be able to drudge up enough change for the Apple Festival. Some citizens, though, speculate that because of the bad economy, people are spending leisure money locally, rather than investing in trips to other states or countries. As such, Gilmer County businesses saw a surge in sales for the past two weekends.Crystal from Panorama Apples, located on Talona Spur in Ellijay, said that they were very busy for the past two weekends but, their busiest day was last Sunday. She said that they were so busy that, at one point, the line of customers stretched out the door and into the parking lot. Also, judging from the volume of customers, she felt that they were busier than last year.
Local hotels were also booked. Best Western said they were fully booked this year. However, they said they were also fully booked last year, so they said it was difficult to say whether this year was busier than last year, or visa versa. One employee said that she did not know how many people were turned away.
According to Festival Manger Scott Sharp, this year’s 40th Gilmer County Apple Festival brought 20,000 people to the festival the first weekend and 26,000 the second weekend. The Apple Festival is a non-profit organization. After expenses are met, all proceeds are divided, where 50 percent goes to the Lion’s Club and the other 50 goes to the chamber.
When asked by FYN if this year’s attendance was greater or less than last year, Sharp said that the attendance was actually less than last year. Sharp’s comment corresponds with the county’s unemployment numbers. On the bright side, Sharp assured that all the money from the festival stayed in the county.