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This weekend, Fairfield will host its 36th Annual Pippinfest, a fall festival which has been a tradition in the small community of 500 residents for over 30 years.

Founded in September 1980 by David Thomas, then owner of the historic Fairfield Inn, it was a way to bring the community together and celebrate its heritage.

Pippinfest means "apple festival" and was named after the Pippin apples, which were popular cooking apples in the early days of the community.

"The earliest apple tree brought from England and cultivated in the colonies was the Pippin apple tree, grown by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson," according to the Pippinfest website.

Fairfield was named after the English town of the same name since it was settled in part by English immigrants, so in 1982, one of the trees was planted behind the Fairfield Inn.

"The tree still stands today, and bears delicious fruit every fall," according to the website.

This year, the festival returns to Fairfield's Main Street, bringing more than 100 food and craft vendors from central Pennsylvania and Maryland. There will be new vendors and returning vendors, including Ambrosia Farm, Hobbitt House Pottery--which makes commemorative Pippinfest pottery each year-- Irish Lass Glass, and  Antietam Dairy.

On Saturday, there will be 40 or more community yard sales in addition to select food and craft vendors, and on Sunday, the festival will include the full selection of vendors, as well as entertainment and music from area musicians.

Attendance for the local festival is usually high, with thousands populating the small town for food, crafts, demonstrations, kids' activities and, of course, apples.

Fairfield is in the heart of apple country in Pennsylvania, according to Pippinfest spokesperson Linda Sites. There will be six orchards from surrounding areas donating apples for the festival attendees.

"We do have plenty of local apples to give away!" Sites said.

Pippinfest also has an apple dessert baking contest on Sunday, in which all entries must be made from scratch with apples, and the Pennsylvania Apple Queen is scheduled to make an appearance with her princesses.

The annual festival is also an opportunity for the small community of Fairfield to grow its population for the weekend, with many relatives and former residents making the journey back to town to partake of the tradition.

"It's a family gathering time. Kind of a homecoming," said Sites, who lives in neighboring Carroll Valley with her husband, who is from Fairfield. Sites has family coming in this weekend from Texas, Ohio, Philadelphia and Virginia. "It's our biggest family gathering of the year," she said.

The community-oriented festival is organized entirely by volunteers, both from Fairfield and the surrounding communities in Carroll Valley, Hamiltonban Township and Liberty Township.

"It's an old-fashioned street festival, " Sites said. "You see people you haven't seen all year. You enjoy the food and the music. Its fun. That's why we work so hard to keep it going."

If You Go

When: Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m.- to 4 p.m.

Where: Main Street, Fairfield

Admission: Free admission and parking

Weather: Rain or shine

More info: Visit the Pippinfest Facebook page for a preview of food, entertainment and vendors and pippinfest.com for a full list of food and craft vendors.

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