LINCOLN COUNTY, N.C. -- There were apples as far as the eye could see in downtown Lincolnton Saturday.

Apple ciders, yogurts, pies and of course, the fruit by the bag, were all at the 45th annual Apple Festival.

Apples are big business in Lincoln County agriculture, with one estimate saying at one point, apples made up about a quarter of the county's farming economy.

The county is still home to nearly half a dozen orchards. The festival's original founder Malinda Houser, also known by the community as the "Apple Queen," continues to sell pies to this day.

“It’s amazing. Thousands of people come to this festival each year," Houser said. "It’s grown from 300 people in the church fellowship hall to thousands now.”

Money from the sale of the pies and her apple pie cookbook provide scholarships for high school seniors and supports the local Boys and Girls Clubs, among other charities.