Henderson County's Famous Apple Festival is an outgrowth of the original Henderson County Centennial Celebration held in 1938. Following the centennial celebration, it was decided by a group of leading citizens that an annual fall festival was more desirable. For two years, 1939 and 1940, the event was held at the conclusion of the summer season. At the onset of World War II the festival was discontinued.
The festival program has varied slightly from year to year, but it has always contained crowd-pleasing events. Up until the mid 1980s, the festival was a week to ten days of activities.
Past activities included a beauty pageant (second only to the state's Miss North Carolina Pageant) muzzle-loader shoots, dancing and musical events. In 1988, the Apple Festival Committee shortened the event to four days to allow the festival to be considered as a well-packaged extended vacation for visitors and as exciting festivities for locals.
Events are varied, with Hendersonville's Historic Main Street hosting the most excitement. More than 150 vendors line eight blocks of the main event area. The King Apple Parade, always held on Labor Day, culminates the Main Street activities. Reminiscent of early festivals, the North Carolina Apple Festival closes with a street dance.