Apple fans crowded the streets of Grand Rapids during the annual festival last year.
Northwest Ohioans will get a chance this weekend to indulge their passion for the apple - crisp and juicy right off the tree, pressed into cider, cooked into butter, baked into pies, fritters, and dumplings.
We're smitten every year at this time, thanks in large part to the match-making talents of the Grand Rapids Historical Society's Applebutter Fest in downtown Grand Rapids, Ohio, and MacQueen Orchards' Apple Butter Festival & Craft Show in Holland.
This year's noteworthy anniversaries - 30 years for the Grand Rapids event and 25 years for MacQueen Orchards' festival - are a testament to their popularity. So is the turnout.
Although a lot depends upon the weather, MacQueen Orchards draws around 15,000 people to its site at 7605 Garden Rd., said Marlene MacQueen, one of the owners. The free event will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
And little Grand Rapids - population normally less than 1,000 - explodes to as many as 60,000 people elbow to elbow on a perfect fall day. The Applebutter Fest is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The only charge is $7 for parking.
"We recommend that if people are coming from Toledo, they cross the river at Waterville and come in on [State Route] 65 rather than [U.S.] 24. If they're coming from the west, come in on 65," suggested Steve Kryder, co-chairman. "There is ample parking in the parking lots," he added.
As apple butter cooks in 50-gallon copper kettles, military and pioneer re-enactors will demonstrate weapons of various time periods and such skills as candle dipping, blacksmithing, weaving, and spinning. A woman who tans hides - a festival feature that is especially popular with children - will be found in the Town Hall area, Kryder said.
The lineup also includes a display of antique farm machinery, juried arts and crafts show, country crafts, and live entertainment including the Air Force Reserve Band.
New this year will be a restored chuck wagon where volunteers will demonstrate cooking methods of long ago, Kryder said.
"People come for the crafts, the food, the glorious atmosphere along the Maumee," he added. "We as a historical society like to focus on the fact that people can see how their ancestors lived and worked."
At MacQueen Orchards, activities will include pick-your-own apples ($10 a half-bushel, $20 a bushel), food, pony rides, craft show and sale, live music, an apple pie-baking contest, wagon rides, cider pressing, and apple butter making.
MacQueen recalled that the event started as "a little festival" to thank customers. She guesses that maybe 5,000 or 6,000 people came to the first one.
"They begged us to have it again," MacQueen said. "People just love it."
MacQueen Orchards' 25th Annual Apple Butter Festival & Craft Show will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at 7605 Garden Rd., Holland. Directions and details are at www.macqueenorchards.com. The 30th Annual Grand Rapids Applebutter Fest runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday in downtown Grand Rapids, Ohio. Information: www.applebutterfest.org.
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