2020 Events Postponed. Join us September 15-18, 2021. Click here to view the announcement.

History of the Murphysboro Apple Festival

The Murphysboro Apple Festival is the oldest and largest alcohol-free festival in southern Illinois! Always held the second weekend after Labor Day, each year more than 45,000 people flock to Downtown Murphysboro and the surrounding areas. Originating as a one-day event in 1952 by the Murphysboro Chamber of Commerce to promote Murphysboro businesses, the Apple Festival has grown into the premiere four-day festival it is today. The festival's signature event, the Appletime Grand Parade, is considered by many to be the largest parade in southern Illinois with an average of 160 total units participating.

The Murphysboro Apple Festival is organized for the purpose of educating the local and regional populace on the importance of the local orchards and horticulture in general; to provide an opportunity for local nonprofits and charities to showcase their organizations and fundraise; to provide the developmentally disabled the opportunity to assist with and participate in a public event; to provide scholarships; to foster community and regional interaction and cooperation; and to promote and support various charitable, governmental and civic organizations and causes through investment in facilities and other property and improvements and direct financial support.

Murphysboro Apple Festival, Inc. Purpose Statement

Our Goals

The Murphysboro Apple Festival has been very busy working to accomplish several goals. It began with the goal of the Festival to stand on its own as an entity that did not depend on another organization to support it. That goal was accomplished when we began operating without the help of the Murphysboro Chamber of Commerce. The Murphysboro Apple Festival was incorporated in June 2015.

Our next goal was to have a home that we could call our own. Since July of 2015, we have had office space at 110 South 14th Street. The building not only gives us the space we need to meet the clerical needs of the Festival, but the Emporium items can be displayed attractively and some storage needs can be handled. The community knows they can come to the office to purchase Emporium items and tickets, vote for Apple Blossom and Prince and Princess contestants, and get answers to all their questions about the Festival.

In May 2017, our Board of Directors received notification that Murphysboro Apple Festival, Incorporated was recognized as a 501(c)(3) Public Charity under the Internal Revenue Code. Now, any donations made to the Apple Festival qualify as tax deductions. We are also qualified to receive tax-deductible bequests, devises, transfers, or gifts as well.

A majority of the entertainment and events held during the festival are completely free. Any funds raised through the sale of Emporium items, Appletime Bakery goods, and ticket sales are re-invested back into the Festival to continue the tradition for many more years to come. The Murphysboro Apple Festival is grateful to the Humbert Rogers Trust Fund, the Elizabeth Smysor Charitable Trust, and the late Fred L. Cook for their generous support.

If you would like to make a donation to the Murphysboro Apple Festival, we have provided an easy online donation option in our store. You can click the "Give" button located at the top right of the screen or the button below. You can also mail your donations to our office, located at 110 South 14th Street, Murphysboro, IL 62966.

Appletime Archives

Recent Event & Contest Results

2019 Results
2018 Results
2017 Results
2016 Results

Apple Festival Souvenir Booklets

The first souvenir book was published in 1957, and a book has been printed each year since then, with the exception of the years 1993 through 1996. The first book, and each book since 1997, has been printed by Schwebel Printing. The 1959 Festival was the first time a theme was introduced, but it wasn't until 1975 that the theme appeared on the book's cover for the first time. Since 1983, when the poster was introduced, that design has appeared on the cover of the souvenir book with the exception of two years.

The Murphysboro Apple Festival has, in its archives, physical copies of each souvenir book which, with the help of Sallie Logan Public Library, have recently been digitized and made available online.

70th Annual (2021)
69th Annual (2020) none
68th Annual (2019)
67th Annual (2018)
All earlier booklets can be found in the Murphysboro Apple Festival digital archive collection, found at the link below

Illinois State Archives
Murphysboro Apple Festival Collections

Thanks to the efforts of Sallie Logan Public Library and the Illinois State Library Illinois History Digital Imaging Grant Program, the entire collection of Appletime Books, print materials, pictures, and memorabilia housed at the library is now available online!

Illinois Digital Archives - Murphysboro Apple Festival

Captain Applesauce

Captain Applesauce was created in 1980 by Apple Festival Committee member Peggy Strong.

Murphysboro’s own superhero first took shape in a few simple sketches that later evolved into a children’s coloring book. A pudgy caped ‘apple man,’ Captain Applesauce possesses all the powers essential for the mascot of the Murphysboro Apple Festival: he can fly over an apple tree, play golf, befriend zoo animals, lead a marching band, and most of all, charm any crowd of kids.

A St. Louis costume designer was the first to capture Captain Applesauce’s sense of style.

He now serves as mascot and host for all Murphysboro Apple Festival events, welcoming kids of all ages to join in the fun.

Among the Captain’s favorite events are Storytime with Captain Applesauce, where kids get to enjoy reading with our hometown hero, and of course, the Murphysboro Apple Festival Grand Parade.

Apple Festival Themes

Since 1959 the Murphysboro Apple Festival Committee has selected a theme for the annual event. The 1959 theme was “Fantasy in Music” with Festival participants utilizing song titles as the basis of their design for floats, decorated windows and promotions for the 1959 festival.

A theme was added to the yearly Festival tradition to spark interest and ad variety to each year’s event. Past themes have marked national and regional years of celebration and historical relevance such as the 1961 theme “Historical Events” or the 1968 theme “150 Years of Illinois”. Others noted current happenings and trends such as the 1988 theme “Now a Word From Our Sponsor” or the passing of a century – the 1999 theme “A Moment in Time”.

Past theme ideas have been created by the Apple Festival Committee or more recently penned by community members and selected by the Festival Committee. Age has proven to be no boundary to creativity with theme authors ranging in age from youth under 9 to seniors over 75. Most recently, the Murphysboro Apple Festival Committee has solicited theme submissions from our elementary school classes with great success, as these submissions have been some our most original and creative themes. Classes whose themes are selected by the committee receive a framed theme poster and other promotional awards.

With the creation of a theme, a promotional poster for each year’s Festival was created. The first Festival posters were printed using a silk-screen method on white poster board with only red and black ink being used. The posters are still created in this method and still only use the signature red and black ink colors with only two past Festivals departing from the traditional red/black ink only colors: the 1987 poster “The Constitution – Our American Heritage” (anniversary of the American Constitution), was printed utilizing black, red, white and blue, and the 2001 poster, “50 Years of Appletime Tradition” marking the 50th Festival, used the traditional red/black but also sported a gold ‘50th’ as the poster’s focal point.

Initially the poster design and graphics were created as a class project for students in the Southern Illinois University at Carbondale Graphics Department. Individual students would create their concept for the design making a formal presentation to members of the Apple Festival Committee who would select a winning design. Students were graded by their instructor on concept, design work and presentation, not solely on the committee’s selection. More recently, because of changes at SIU in class structure, poster concept, design, and printing is handled locally by Silkworm, Inc.


"Festival Lights on September Nights"


"Lights, Camera, APPLETIME!"


"70 Years of Apples, Pies & Rides, Oh My!"


"mUrphysboRo STR🍎NG"


"Slice of Tradition"


"These Roots Run Deep"


"Do You Remember When…"


"A Harvest of History"


"The Magic of Appletime"


"A Grand Past, A Bright Future"


62nd Annual
"Planting Seeds for Tomorrow"


61st Annual
"Orchard of Dreams"


"60 Years of Appletime Fun"


"Once Upon an Appletime"


"A Bushel of Memories"


"Ripe With Possibilites"


"Spirit of America"


"Famous Firsts"


"Extra, Extra! Read All About It!"


"The Wonderful World of Sports"


"Let's Go to the Movies"


"America the Beautiful"


"50 Years of Appletime Tradition"


"Heroes of the Past"


"A Moment in Time"


"Tell Me a Story"


"If I Could Wish Upon a Star…"


"All the World's a Stage"


"Earth…What a World"


"All Things Great and Small"


"Traveling Through Time"


"Storybook Characters on Parade"


"Moments We've Shared"


"Childhood Dreams"


"A Time to Remember"


"Now a Word From Our Sponsors"


"The Constitution - Our American Heritage"


"Television - America's Pastimes"


"Salute to Southern Illinois"


"Life's Precious Memories"


"The Wonderful World of Motion Pictures"


"Music, Music, Music"


"Happiness Is"


"Our Super Heroes"


"Best of Broadway"


"A Child's World"


"Beyond the Horizon-A Glimpse Into the Future"


"Our Proud Heritage"


"The World and Its People"


"Those Were the Days"


"Great Stories of the Bible"




"Twenty Fruitful Years"


"Wonderful World of Disney"


"Great Moments in History"


"150 Years of Illinois"


"Highways of America"


"The Legend and Lore of Southern Illinois"


"The Wonderful World of Television"


"The Roaring Twenties"


"Great Moments"


"The Golden West"


"Historical Events"


"Nursery Rhymes"


"Fantasy in Music" (Song Titles)

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