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Published: Thursday, 10/6/2005

Pioneering our past: Applebutter Fest takes visitors back to late 18th, early 19th centuries

BY ANN WEBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The 29th Annual Applebutter Fest in Grand Rapids, Ohio, takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free; parking is $6 in lots located on Sycamore Road off State Rt. 65, Wapakoneta Road south of the village, and the Henry/Wood County Line Road on the west edge of town. Shuttle buses will run from the lots to the festival. Information: www.applebutterfest.org.
The 29th Annual Applebutter Fest in Grand Rapids, Ohio, takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free; parking is $6 in lots located on Sycamore Road off State Rt. 65, Wapakoneta Road south of the village, and the Henry/Wood County Line Road on the west edge of town. Shuttle buses will run from the lots to the festival. Information: www.applebutterfest.org.
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If you don't get your fill of apples, apple butter, and apple cider this weekend, you have only yourself to blame.

The fall fruit will be celebrated at special events throughout the area, including the big apple of them all: the 29th annual Applebutter Fest in Grand Rapids, Ohio, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Sponsored by the Historical Society of Grand Rapids, the free festival takes visitors back in time with re-enactors - soldiers, mountain men, and settlers - and demonstrations of such pioneer skills as candle dipping, blacksmithing, pottery making, basket weaving, quilting, and metal spinning.

The idea is to portray life in the Maumee Valley in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, said festival co-chairman Jim Thomson. "It's not a carnival. You won't find cotton candy or Ferris wheels."

Other main attractions are crafts - including 125 artisans in a juried show - and, of course, the apple butter that will cook throughout the morning in three 50-gallon copper kettles in the village park.

Even before the first ingredient is dropped into the pots at about 6 a.m. Sunday, more than 2,300 pints of apple butter will be ready for sale at the park. Those jars are made in advance of the festival - and they go fast, Thomson said. "We will sell all of that by 11," he added.

If you miss those, you'll have to wait until early afternoon, when the first of that day's batches will be ready for canning.

It's about a six-hour process that starts with bringing 50 gallons of cider to a boil in each kettle, Thomson said. "When we get down to 10 gallons of syrup, we start to add the apples, about 15 bushels cut up in small pieces like you would for a pie, all peeled and sliced. We add those gradually."

They use apples such as Empire, Jonathan, and Yellow Delicious - but no Red Delicious because they're too hard, he noted.

After hours of cooking and stirring, with the end in sight and the apple butter thick and smooth, 75 pounds of sugar is added to each kettle. The consistency of the apple butter has to be just right before that last step is taken, Thomson said. "We scoop some out and put it on a plate and tilt it to see how much juice runs out to determine the thickness of it. We can tell by looking at it," he explained.

Meanwhile, a variety of live music will be performed in the park and on two stages in the village. On two mini-stages and in the children's area, the lineup will include magicians, mimes, harmonica players, caricaturists, storytellers, and face painters.

Annual attendance at the Applebutter Fest has been estimated at 40,000 to 50,000, but "We don't charge admission so there's no way to get a head count."

Thomson measures it this way: "It's unbelievable how many people come."

The 29th Annual Applebutter Fest in Grand Rapids, Ohio, takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free; parking is $6 in lots located on Sycamore Road off State Rt. 65, Wapakoneta Road south of the village, and the Henry/Wood County Line Road on the west edge of town. Shuttle buses will run from the lots to the festival. Information: www.applebutterfest.org.

Here are some other options for festival-lovers this weekend:

●Fall Festival and Chili Cook-off in Archbold: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Highlights will include the Annual Run for the Lights, parade, chili cook-off, music, children's activities, and bike-safety program. Information: 419-445-2222.

●Fall Festival in Lakeside: noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. The day will include live entertainment, games for children, miniature golf, shuffleboard, hayrides, soup and sandwich lunch, and a pie contest and auction. Admission is free, but fees will be charged for some activities. Information: Lakeside Association at 1-866-952-5374 or www.lakesideohio.com.

●4th Annual Fostoria Railroad Festival: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in downtown Fostoria. Events will include a soup cook-off, historic train information, car and bike show, games for children, photo contest, and train swap meet. Information: www.fostoriatrains.com.

●Harvest Happenings: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in Osborn Park, Huron Township. Highlights will include a parade at 2:45 p.m. each day, hayrides, petting zoo, food and craft vendors, dunk tank, and a living history encampment. Information: 419-625-7783 or www.eriemetroparks.org.

●10th Annual Autumn Lighthouse Festival: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at St. Mary's Byzantine Catholic Church in Marblehead, Ohio, next to Marblehead Lighthouse State Park. More than 60 vendors will display arts, crafts, and collectibles. Free tours of the lighthouse will be offered from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the adjacent Keeper's House Museum will be open. Information: 419-798-9777 or www.marbleheadpeninsula.com.

●27th Annual Oak Harbor Apple Festival: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday in downtown Oak Harbor. The festival will feature live music, a parade, kiddie tractor pull, talent show, car show, crafts, and Boy Scout apple butter stir and sale. Information: 419-898-0479 or www.oakharborohio.net.

●12 Annual Appleumpkin Festival and Antiques Street Fair: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday in downtown Tecumseh, Mich., held in conjunction with the 27th Annual Kapnick Orchard Apple Festival in Britton, Mich. Appleumpkin activities will range from a fine arts and juried craft show at Adams Park to live bands, a Make-It-Take-It Tent for kids, scarecrow contest, festival food, and free trolley rides between the two festivals. Kapnick Orchard will offer wagon rides, more than 100 craft booths, children's petting zoo, cider pressing and apple butter-making. Information: 517-424-6003 or www.tecumseh.mi.us.

Contact Ann Weber at: aweber@theblade.com

or 419-724-6126.



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