The 66th annual Apple Festival wraps up Saturday evening.
On Thursday the festival opened up for the special needs population of Jackson County.
Thousands of people will visit Murphysboro this weekend for the Apple festival.
The biggest event is the parade Saturday morning.
There’s one event that’s been going on for about 20 years you don’t hear a lot about.
On Thursday from 12 to 2 the apple fest opens early for the special friends day for Jackson County’s special needs population.
Kathy Bauman has been the chair of special friends day for the last 4 years.
“It gives people with disabilities the chance to do things they might not get to experience in other situations or settings.”
With 13 schools and agencies arriving the streets fill up quick with around 250 people with special needs.
With this many people the schools need a little help from the community.
“Key club comes from the high school that brings volunteers.”
Freshman Macie Mifflin says this is her first time helping and found it rewarding.
“It makes me happy to them smile and laugh and have a good time.”
Bauman says the happiness is shared by all at this event.
“You’ll see smiles on faces you’ll see jumping up and down you’ll see excitement, you’ll get to see I got to ride that or I got to do this and you can’t come away from it with out feeling good.”
After they fill up on corndogs, funnel cakes and shake ups they can ride the rides or listen to the DJ and dance giving them a Thursday afternoon to remember.
“I think it’s the best event that apple festival does because it shows the community that we care about all people.”
The special friends day is free to all the special needs people in attendance.
The 2018 apple festival is scheduled for September 12th to the 15th