Johnny Appleseed Festival

Mark Your Calendar! (Always the last Saturday in September)

This Year’s Date: Saturday, September 29, 2018 

Johnny Appleseed Festival Dancers

Johnny Appleseed Festival Dancers

Thanks to all of our sponsors, business owners, volunteers, and the community for supporting this great event!

This will be our 26th Annual Johnny Appleseed Festival in Downtown Crystal Lake!

Did you know?  John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, was a real-life historical figure whose wilderness adventures became larger-than-life legends.  He was known as a kind and gentle man who planted apple trees throughout the Midwest.  Meet and greet Johnny Appleseed himself, as he strolls the streets of downtown, telling his story throughout the day.

Crystal Lake’s largest one-day event brings families and the community together to celebrate Fall.  Thanks to our major event sponsor:

Home State Bank




The Craft Fair was held in Ormsby Motors’ parking lot during the Johnny Appleseed Festival.  Dozens of vendors displayed beautiful and unique handmade items (everything from quilts to painted rocks to jewelry to fabric tote bags to crocheted items to holiday decorations to….well, you get the picture!).

PLACEMATS/ACTIVITY SHEETS!  Fun, colorful, informative…and coming soon to your favorite local restaurants and businesses!  We’ve put together a placemat/activity sheet for the kiddos and for the adults.  Learn more about the 26th Annual Johnny Appleseed Festival. Click on the link: Placemat 2018 and print as many as you want, or stop by your favorite local restaurant and ask if they are participating.  Thanks to our logo sponsors (shown on the placemat) for supporting this project. 

APPLE SCAVENGER HUNT (September 7th – 24th)
This scavenger hunt is just-for-fun! See game card for additional rules and information. 

How to Play:
1. Grab a game card from Out of the Box (71 N. Williams) or Marvin’s Toy Store (64 N. Williams).  Or Scavenger Hunt Game Card to print out your own.
2. Hunt for the numbered red apples in the downtown district.  Each apple will reveal a word for the puzzle. (hint: apples can be found on Brink St., Crystal Lake Ave., Grant St., Main St., Williams St., Woodstock St., and in the Brink Street Market)
3. Write down the words you find in the matching apple box on the game card to discover the completed sentence.
4. Drop off your completed game card to Marvin’s Toy Store or Out of the Box.  Game ends on September 24th.

This year, we had five winners: The Eisermann Family, Natalie Freeman, Wendy Lile, Jared Nieman, and Delaney Perez.  Congratulations!

Back by Popular Demand!
 Start your apple day at the Community Pancake Breakfast hosted by Bethany Lutheran Church.  Breakfast will be served from 8AM to 10:30AM on Saturday, September 29th at Bethany Lutheran Church, 76 W. Crystal Lake Avenue.

Ticket prices and information:
$5 per person
Under 3 years old – free
$15 max per family
Pay at the door.  Each person attending the pancake breakfast will receive one FREE Johnny Appleseed Festival event ticket which can be used for games, activities, rides, and souvenirs at the Festival.

Proceeds will benefit Bethany Lutheran Church Youth Confirmation activities and scholarships for camps.

Ten bakers compete against each other. Pies are judged on appearance, taste, and crust.

Congratulations to our 2018 winners:

1st Place – Julie Gilligan
2nd Place – Amber Kennett
3rd Place – Cecilia Olson




Dozens of scarecrows will adorn the lampposts in Downtown Crystal Lake. Businesses and individuals compete for bragging rights in six categories.  Scarecrow Flier for this year’s Scarecrow Flier.  If you wish to participate (contest is open to the public), please call the office at 815/479-0835 to reserve your lamppost.

The 2018  winners were:
Scariest – Mum 117
Most Colorful – Crystal Lake Public Library
Most Creative – McCAP (McHenry County Adult Program)
Most Humorous – Benedicts La Strata
Most Representative of Business – Lifetime Vision
Judges’ Choice – Marvin’s Toy Store

The creativity of the scarecrows always gives Downtown something to “crow about”!

And, speaking of scarecrows….watch for our giant stilt-walking juggling scarecrow who will be roaming around all afternoon.  The scarecrow will put on a special performance immediately following the Great Ball Race on Brink Street.  You won’t want to miss the fun!

FREE ENTERTAINMENT!!  Downtown will come alive with music and fun — all day!.
The Corner Boys” will be entertaining the crowds in Depot Park.  “Northwest Highway” will be singing and playing music at Brink Street Market throughout the day.  Watch for a special appearance by the Ukulele Superheroes!

Demonstrations and More FREE Entertainment!!
View and participate in demonstrations of an antique apple cider press, provided by the Crystal Lake Historical Society. There will be musical groups, dance presentations, storytelling in front of the Raue Center (provided by the Crystal Lake Public Library), and so much more! Free balloon art creations in front of Crystal Lake Bank & Trust (70 N. Williams) from 10AM to 12PM. Lots of fun for everyone!

Low Cost Entertainment for the Family!
Activities such as children’s games, pony rides, petting zoo, pumpkin train, pumpkin bowling, temporary tattoos, giant slide, wagon rides, amusement rides, moonwalk, etc. require tickets. Tickets are $1 each. Two ticket/information booths will be setup (one at the corner of Williams & Brink, and one at the parking lot near most of the activities).  Click on the link for a list of ticketed activities and the number of tickets needed for each: Activity Schedule

SOUVENIR BOOTH (selling apple cider donuts, water, apple juice, apple sippers, apple squishies, cookbooks, Crystal Lake T-shirts & mugs, tote bags, and more) will be located in the Brink Street Market next to the large parking lot. The Souvenir Booth will accept BOTH Cash and Tickets.

For fast-paced excitement and fun, check out the Great Ball Race on Brink Street. Purchase your chance to win $1,000 at the ticket booth near Dalzell Jewelers. Race time is 3PM. Come on down and cheer your ball on to victory. Click here for additional information about the Great Ball Race.

Thousands of people attend the Johnny Appleseed Festival. We hope you’ll join us in 2018!

There are lots of parking options throughout Downtown Crystal Lake.  The commuter lots are FREE and open to the public all day Saturday.  Also, thanks to our friends at Willow Crystal Lake for providing additional parking and a safe crossing to the event.

The Johnny Appleseed Festival and Great Ball Race are planned, organized and staffed by volunteers.  Thank you to our sponsors for their support, which enables us to host these wonderful family-friendly events for our community.


Thank you to our Sponsors!

View photos from prior events: