MONMOUTH — The town will turn over its downtown center Saturday to AppleFest 2014, a daylong celebration of apples and rural life that will raise money to benefit the Monmouth Museum and other programs.

Main Street will be closed to traffic and open to pedestrians and activities from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A breakfast at United Church of Monmouth’s Packard Activity Center will kick things off with apple pancakes, blueberry pancakes and scrambled eggs.

Admission costs $6 for adults and $3 for children 8 and under. Proceeds will benefit United Church and the Methodist Church of East Monmouth.

A road race will start at 8 a.m. at Cumston Hall, which is also the finish line. The 5-kilometer course runs up Blue Road and back down Academy Road. Nancy Ludewig, one of the race organizers, said the course is good for runners trying to set personal records because the second half of the race is all downhill. Runners can sign up for the race on race day.

The race is being hosted by Friends of Cumston Hall, and proceeds will benefit the iconic structure designed by Harry Cochrane and built in 1900 that houses the Theater at Monmouth.

AppleFest started in 1989 as a way to raise funds for the Monmouth Museum. It has grown in size and popularity every year since then. Sheila Sanford, North Monmouth postmaster and president of Monmouth Museum, said proceeds from AppleFest are used to pay for insurance on the museum’s buildings and for other expenses.

The museum, which includes several old buildings in downtown Monmouth, was started in the 1960s by the late Earle Flanders, a local funeral director who collected historical items and stored them in the buildings he saved from demolition.

The Monmouth Museum, which owns eight old buildings, houses exhibits depicting life in an agricultural town from 1800 to 1950. Among the museum buildings are a stencil shop, a blacksmith’s shop, a carriage house, an old-time school room and a 19th-century dwelling.

Admission to the museum’s buildings is free on the day of AppleFest. During the rest of the year, admission costs $5 for adults and $1 for children.

“I would estimate that last year, we had 1,500 people throughout the day,” Sanford said.

She said the museum’s new acquisitions during the past year include a telescope that was owned by Fred Metcalf, “a very nice antique music box,” and a corn shucker that was made in Monmouth.

“Once the Monmouth valley was considered to be the biggest apple-producing area in northern New England,” Sanford said. Though those orchards have shrunk in size or gone out of business, Monmouth still has a tradition of growing apples and baking apple pies.

Sanford said about 70 bakers make 100 apple pies that are for sale at the festival, either as whole pies or as slices topped with cheddar cheese or ice cream.

Linda Verrill, who sells pie slices for $3 apiece in the Apple Pie Cafe, said business is brisk during the festival. She also sells coffee, hot and cold apple cider and sometimes soup.

“We usually sell out,” Verrill said. “We do pretty well over there. I see a lot of people I know and a lot of people I don’t know. Last time there was a couple from Australia who wanted to see a moose.”

Whole apple pies are for sale in the country store across Main Street from the rest of the museum. Sanford said there will be free balloons for the children, rides in a barrel-car train and rides in a horse-drawn wagon.

“There will be a lot of demonstrations you can watch,” Sanford said. An apple pie eating contest also is on the agenda.

There will be a cider pressing demonstration, a quilt raffle and a crafters’ fair on Main Street.

“We begin heavy planning for the festival in May or June, but we always have AppleFest in mind throughout the year,” Sanford said.

To find AppleFest, turn off U.S. Route 202 about five miles west of Winthrop on Route 132 and drive about three miles until you get to Monmouth Center, where the festival is held.

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