Slicing the Apples & Stoking the Fires

1502 Harry W. Baals Dr. Fort Wayne, IN 46805 260-437-0842 jafinfo@johnnyappleseedfest.com

General Vendor Information - Johnny Appleseed Festival

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General Rules for all vendors

The following are the general rules and regulations to participate as a vendor at the Johnny Appleseed Festival. Vendors must adhere to these rules or risk being denied participation for future festivals. If your business or not for profit group is considering applying to the festival – please take note – we do not allow modern style vendors (examples: food vendors requiring modern trailers, food trucks, electric etc., or retailers with modern goods that were not available in the 1800’s). Please take time to read our vendor rules for a better understanding of our period style festival.

It should also be noted that home based businesses that sell pre-made food related products are required to apply for the farmers market area only.  This includes those businesses not using an Allen County Board of Health approved kitchen.

Furthermore, the festival has the right to deny any application for any reason.  This festival is an invitation only.  Your application does not guarantee you entry.  Each area chairperson will review received applications and then notify you of your acceptance or denial.  Application fees must be submitted with your application.  If you are denied, the Johnny Appleseed Festival will issue you a refund.

Applications are made available on our website.  Links are found in several areas of the site and also in the specific festival area section that contains more information specific to that area that supplements these general rules.  Applications typically become available in January of each year and close out in March unless otherwise stated on a specific application.


Each year, the people of Fort Wayne invite visitors from throughout the nation to celebrate the pioneer spirit of John Chapman, better known as “Johnny Appleseed”. This national folk hero spent this last years planting orchards in the Fort Wayne area. The Johnny Appleseed Festival was created in 1974 to commemorate the life and good deeds of John Chapman and to depict the pioneer life he lived in the 1800s. It is one of the few festivals in the United States aimed at preserving American history. The first Johnny Appleseed Festival was a one day event with several thousand visitors. Today the festival is a two day event and draws over 300,000 visitors from all over the Midwest.

The Johnny Appleseed Festival Board is a fully volunteer organization and is proud of the direction the festival has taken over the years and is dedicated to maintaining a high standard of quality and authenticity for the event. It is you, the participant, however, who brings history to life at the festival and make it the success it is today. Our goal is to provide a historically accurate representation of rural pioneer life in the 19th century. This requires the enthusiasm and cooperation of every person involved, from the festival planners to the many vendors, performers and participants.

The Johnny Appleseed Festival Board has established a set of guidelines for participation in the festival. Compliance with these guidelines is mandatory and will be strictly enforced. Groups or individuals unwilling to stay within these parameters will not be allowed to participate in the festival. Please read through the following information carefully. Any questions should be directed to your area chairperson. Again, we welcome you to the Johnny Appleseed Festival and hope your participation proves to be a successful and enjoyable experience.

Johnny Appleseed Festival Board

Health, Safety & Insurance

BOARD OF HEALTH: (If food is being served) Food safety guidelines will be provided with your letter of acceptance and must be adhered to without fail. Please note the Johnny Appleseed Festival guidelines are identical to operating under a Board of Health permit. Questions should be directed to your area chairperson. Vendors not complying with stated guidelines will be shut down.  Individuals or organizations that pre-cook food offsite for sale at the festival must show proof of use of an Allen County Board of Health approved kitchen.  Home cooked items sold for consumption at the festival will only be accepted in our Farmer’s Market area.

LIABILITY INSURANCE: The Johnny Appleseed Festival requires that each food serving vendor provide liability coverage with a certificate of insurance in the amount of at least $300,000, naming the Johnny Appleseed Festival Inc. as additional insured. FOOD VENDORS WITHOUT INSURANCE WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO SETUP. This certificate must be in the hands of your chairperson fourteen (14) days prior to the festival.

FIRE EXTINGUISHERS: All Festival participants working with an open fire OR operate games or activities that require the public to be surrounded by bales of straw must have an approved minimum 10lb. COMMERCIAL GRADE (ABC type) fire extinguisher at the fire site. Vendors working with grease OR oils are required to additionally have a Class K extinguisher.

SAFETY:  In the event of severe weather – announcements will be made at all of our stages and/or through public address use of bullhorns.  If severe weather requires an evacuation – all persons will be directed to the Allen County Memorial Coliseum as our primary shelter.  YOU MAY NOT SHELTER IN PLACE.  Other and additional instructions necessary for any emergency actions will be made from the aforementioned stages or bullhorn methods.

Acceptable Coverings and items in your booth

Life in the 1800’s
The pioneers, by necessity, were a resourceful people. Much of what they had was made by hand. Materials available in the 1800’s included: wood, tin, brass, iron, steel, glass, rope and cloth. There was no plastic, styrofoam, lucite, latex or elastic. There were no aluminum pop cans or cardboard boxes. Please do not bring these items to the festival. (only hot food/drinks may be served in styrofoam.) Use paper lunch bags rather than plastic baggies for individual sales such as potpourri or candy. If you have an item that is banned or required by the Board of Health and you lack a suitable substitute for the item, please follow these guidelines:

COVERINGS – Cloth drop clothes, oilcloth, burlap sacks, quilts or blankets may be used to cover unacceptable items. Paint suppliers are a good source for canvas drop cloths.

COOLERS – Plastic or styro-foam coolers may be placed inside a wooden box or covered with a cloth (see COVERINGS). Some participants make their own coolers from wood lined with galvanized tin or steel.

TABLES – Tables must be covered to the ground on all four sides. Suggested fabrics include: broadcloth, calico, gingham, burlap, muslin, canvas, chambray or osnaburg. Clear plastic table covering is not appropriate. Items from the “banned” list may be hidden under the table.

STRAW BALES – Straw bales will be available for purchase from our vendor at the festival. You are also welcome to bring your own. Individual and group participants are responsible for your own straw clean-up if the bales are broken. Bales placed at our 4 stages ARE NOT FOR YOUR USE. They are for the visitors to use as seats at our stages. The removal of these bales for use in your booth could cause for a fine in the amount of double the rate currently being offered by our straw vendor, ejection from the festival or your organization not being invited to return. The JAF Festival reserves the right to deny removal of straw bales left on the grounds after closing that were not privately purchased by any vendor. Straw bales left behind by vendors becomes the property of the festival.

CUPS/MUGS – Remember, plastic cups are not allowed. Place your personal refreshments in stoneware, tin or ceramic mugs. Many modern mugs look old.

TENTS – The festival board provides tents for most vendors in neutral and off-white colors for certain festival participants. Neutral or off-white colored tarps or tents are preferred. Aluminum tent poles must be disguised.  No modern plastic/poly tent materials are allowed.

SIGNS – Signs should be made of wood, tin brass or other period materials. Cardboard is not acceptable. Signs may be placed on your counter top or nailed to a pole you bring for your set-up. No signs of any type are to be nailed to trees or tent poles or attached to a campground post. These will be promptly removed and the group’s status for returning to the festival next year will be jeopardized.

CRAFT ITEMS – Exhibited items must be hand made by the person or persons participating. Mass produced items are not acceptable, including books, tapes, compact discs, artificial Christmas trees, pre-fabricated iron (mass produced) and plastic items.

ANIMALS – Please leave pets at home for their safety and protection. Pets are not permitted and attendees with pets will be asked to leave the festival grounds. Failure to do so promptly could result in a citation from local law enforcement.  If you are a vendor/entertainer that uses animals – please coordinate with your area chairperson.

BREAKING CAMP – Booth take-down may not begin until the festival closes at 5:01pm on Sunday. You should plan enough product to be able to maintain your booth through the entire festival.  Please be courteous to the vendors around you during this time.  Everyone wants to go home and there are many vehicles/trailers.  Take your time – work together.  Vendors may not line up vehicles on city streets or park party prior to tear down.  At 5:01pm you can move your vehicles and bring them on property.

SALES EQUIPMENT – No battery operated cash registers are allowed. Pocket calculators and change card apparatus must be concealed. Square and smartphone related charge devices are acceptable.

Clothing Requirements (Adults & Children)

WHAT SHOULD I WEAR? – Early to mid 19th century costumes must be worn by all men, women and children participating in the festival. This includes those who will be working in booths even for only short periods of time. Tennis shoes, ball caps and t-shirts are not appropriate attire.

The pioneers and settlers had little time or need for fashion. Clothing was designed to be sturdy and practical. It was the woman’s responsibility to cloth her family. Since the sewing machine wasn’t invented until 1846 and paper patterns much later, all clothing had to be hand stitched. Each garment was nursed to last many years.

WHAT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE: A simple apron over modern day clothing. Simple jean overalls and plain T-shirts or modern day shirts as example.

What IS Acceptable:

Fabrics commonly used by the pioneers include:

  • Flannel (even red)
  • Muslin (bleached/unbleached)
  • Wool
  • Calico
  • Gingham checked
  • Denim
  • Cotton
  • Linsey-woolsey
  • Linen
  • Towcloth or burlap
  • Fustian (50% cotton/50% linen)

Women’s Clothing

Buttons were rarely used on women’s garment. Drawstrings and ties were common features and pins were used as fasteners.

The Chemise . . a simple long sleeve garment made of linen or cotton worn next to the skin, often doubling as a nightgown and a dress. Many women had only two chemises. It was common in hot weather to wear the chemise without a petticoat.

The Petticoat . . a long full skirt gathered onto a waistband. Petticoats were worn over the chemise. In cold weather ladies might wear three or four petticoats over each other for warmth.

The Apron . . an indispensable item of clothing made in several different styles. The word “pinafore” came from the bib apron with the bib pinned in place.

Head Coverings . . Pioneer women always kept their hair covered. Mob caps were often worn. Many times a square of cloth was folded into a triangle and tied under the chin (peasant style), on top of the head (turban style), or behind the head at the nape of the neck. Out of doors, straw hats with wide brims and flat crowns were worn over a mob cap and tied under the chin. Sunbonnets were also worn.

The Kerchief . . a 29″ to 32″ square of fabric folded to form a triangle and worn over the shoulders, tied or pinned in front. Wool was used for warmth in the winter. A thin fabric was used in the summer. The kerchief was usually white or blue.

Cold Weather Garments . . Shawls, capes or mantels were worn for protection against the elements.

Women’s clothing need not be hand sew. Aprons over blue jeans are not allowed. Women’s skirts must reach the ground.

Men’s Clothing

The Work Shirt . . made from cotton fabrics or flannel and fastened at the neck with one or two buttons (not down the front as shirts today). In the 1820’s, a long sleeved knitted undershirt was developed. It was also worn as a work shirt and eventually developed into the union suit.

The Waistcoat . . a vest-like over garment which buttoned down the front and worn for all occasions.

Breeches . . short pants made of cotton, linen, tow, linsey-woolsey and leather fittings snugly just below the knee. They had gussets in the back which laced to fit the wearer and a narrow front fall. Breeches were worn in the early 1800’s.

Trousers . . full length baggy pants made from cotton, denim, linen, linsey-woolsey or leather. They had a broad front fall and often did not have waistbands. They were held up by suspenders or a sash. NO BELTS!

(Note: Fly fronts had not come into use yet. We suggest you wear blue jeans with a long work shirt that will cover the fly.)

Aprons . . were occasionally worn by men, depending upon their task. They were usually made from denim or leather.

Hats . . two common styles included a flat crown straw hat with a broad brim or a large crowned, wide brimmed hat made of felt. The crown was sometimes creased.

The Neckerchief . . a 25″ piece of cloth folded to form a triangle and worn around the neck when working. Neckerchiefs were generally red or blue. In 1832, a store in Fort Wayne sold them for 40 cents.


Stockings were an absolute necessity for both men and women. They were either hand knit, loom made or sewn fabric. In this area, they were probably hand knit and dyed a solid color.


Shoes for men and women were either brown or black (NEVER WHITE!) and were many different styles: moccasins, slip-ons, low laced oxfords and either laced or pull-on boots. Any type of laced sport shoe is acceptable if the uppers and soles are black or brown. Should there be a logo visible, please cover it with tape.

If you are working around fires, please wear leather shoes. No open toe shoes, please.

Children’s Clothing

Children were dressed like miniature adults. They had many tucks in their clothes so they could be easily adjusted as the child grew.

Clothing Patterns and Suppliers

Patterns . . Clothing/Costuming … Necessaries
Townsend and Son, Inc. in downtown Pierceton Indiana.

For catalog: 800-338-1665 or www.townsends.us. Patterns for period clothes and many supplies for living history.

For locally sourced clothing you can use Kyrou’s Tailoring located on Stellhorn Road. 260-486-1381.  www.kyroutailoring.com They can provide custom designs and fittings.

Smoke and Fire Co. 27 N River Road, Waterville, Ohio. 43577 800-766-5334 or www.smoke-fire.com or fax 419-878-3653 for catalog.

Patterns, variety of goods for living history or period clothing.

Gohn Bros. in downtown Middlebury, Indiana, Box 1110, 46540-1110

800-595-0031 for catalog. Many selections-Amish and plain clothing, materials, necessaries for living history.

Patterns available locally . . . Simplicity 9708 and 9713. McCall’s 3669 . . . 2337 . . . 9423

Additional Policies

Rain Policy

In the event of rain, goods may be protected by plastic or similar material. Rain gear is acceptable. Booths may be set up after 9:00 a.m., however, vehicles are still prohibited on the grounds between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Saturday and between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. Under wet conditions, it is acceptable to spread straw in your area. Electing not to set up a booth is permissible only under severe weather conditions and with approval or your area chairperson. Plastic tarps are to be removed when the rain ends or at the request of your area representative or festival official.

Fire Policy

Fires must be built in a ground pit or barrel-type container roped off at a distance of at least 3 feet. Fires must be supervised at all times. Please remove sod carefully and replace it at the conclusion of the festival. Propane gas is not allowed. Wood and charcoal are the only acceptable cooking heating sources.

Gray Water

Gray water is water that has been used to wash pots, pans, hands, etc. Please discard this water at the dump station by the Camp Office. DO NOT DUMP THIS WATER ON THE GROUND.

Clean Up

Each participant is responsible for leaving his/her booth area as it was found upon arrival. The areas should be cleared of all trash and any straw or hay. Any sod removed for fires must be replaced. If you cook with grease, you are required to remove the grease from the grounds. The Festival will provide barrels to dump your used grease into and are located at key food booths that use significant amounts of oil. You may use any of those barrels, please just coordinate with the vendor they are near for access to their area. Dumping grease on the grounds could result in your group not be invited back for future festivals. Cardboard dumpsters are provided by the campground bathhouse over off Harry Baals drive and the Civil War Encampment.

1502 Harry W. Baals Dr. Fort Wayne, IN 46805 jafinfo@johnnyappleseedfest.com 260-437-0842