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Published: 10/11/2007

Apple butter festival filled with history

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

GRAND RAPIDS - This marks the 31st year for the Applebutter Fest in this historic Maumee River town, and organizers, merchants, and residents are bracing for the big event, which is Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Front Street downtown will be closed and will be given over to craft booths.

In the village park, apple butter will be made, and along the canal, re-enactors will demonstrate what it was like to be a voyageur or a soldier in the Revolutionary War or War of 1812.

This year, as in the past, phenomenal crowds are expected to pack into the village of 1,000, if the weather cooperates, Steve Kryder, festival co-chairman, said. The entrance to Grand Rapids is closed at 7 a.m., and some die-hard festival-goers start arriving before then.

"We usually estimate 40,000 to 60,000 people," Mr. Kryder said.

The Grand Rapids Historical Society holds the festival every year as a fund-raiser for its civic projects, such as the restoration of the town hall. Last year the group cleared about $20,000 after spending almost $80,000 to stage the festival, Mr. Kryder said.

But there is a larger purpose.

"We want to educate and provide a historical and family-oriented day. This is a way for us to bring a crowd to town and have a family and historical experience," Mr. Kryder explained.

This year 82 crafters, including jewelry makers, woodworkers, and florists will feature their wares downtown, according to another organizer, Mandy Hawkins.

"We have a woman coming in from Glasgow, Kentucky, and she makes some of the best soaps ever, in my opinion," Ms. Hawkins said. "The KanDo Studio from Findlay makes decorative stars that are very bright and cheerful. There will be potpourri makers. There are a couple of rug makers coming, and people who make clothing such as decorative sweatshirts for the holidays."

Musical entertainment will include Dixieland, soft rock, bluegrass, a barbershop quartet, and the Linenkugels Dulcimer Family, a dulcimer, fiddle, and bass group.

A batch of apple butter is made from 50 gallons of cider that is boiled down to 10 gallons of syrup. Fifteen bushels of peeled, cored apples are added and the mixture is cooked and stirred for six hours in 50-gallon copper kettles until it becomes smooth and dark brown in color. Seventy-five pounds of sugar is added, and the result is canned.

"Apple butter was a traditional way for pioneer and farm families to store some of their product," Mr. Kryder explained.

Some apple butter, which will be sold during the festival, already has been made. Volunteers recently cooked, stirred, and canned four large kettles of apple butter during the "Big Stir" at Mr. Kryder's farm north of McClure in Henry County.

Three kettles of apple butter, using about 50 bushels of apples, will be made during the festival, Mr. Kryder said.

On festival day, parking will cost $7. There will be a free shuttle bus to take festival-goers downtown. Attendants will direct drivers to lots.

The Saturday evening before the festival is always a pleasant time, Mr. Kryder said. At dusk, a replica of a Civil War cannon is fired as re-enactors sit along the canal around their campfires.

"That's a real treat," Mr. Kryder said.

Contact Carl Ryan at:

carlryan@theblade.com

or 419-206-0356.



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