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At this fest, apple butter is king

October 07, 2000

At this fest, apple butter is king



By DAN KULIN / Staff Writer


BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - The star of the annual Apple Butter Festival here takes at least six hours to prepare.

Time is a main ingredient in the sweet-tasting treat that lends the festival its name. The slow-cooking apple butter spread requires between six hours and 10 hours of constant stirring over an open fire.

Apparently it's worth it.

"It's good. Tastes like apple, and juicy and spicy," said Lauren Cooper, 8, of Bunker Hill, W.Va., who took a turn Saturday stirring the apple butter in a large copper kettle.

Barbara Sieglaff, 52, of Inwood, W.Va., said apple butter was on her family's Thanksgiving table every year when she was growing up. Now she only gets it at the festival.

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"It's something I grew up on," she said, holding a warm jar of the freshly made delicacy.

About 55 gallons of apple butter were made Saturday, and another 55 gallons will probably be made today, said Jack W. Stotler, who oversees one of the apple butter-making tents at the festival.

Stotler, 63, said it can take as long nine hours of cooking to get the apple butter mixture ready for the sugar that is another of its ingredients. It cooks for another hour after the sugar is added, then just before removing the heat from the kettle cinnamon and cloves are stirred into the mixture.

Stotler, who's been cooking apple butter since he was a teenager, said the mixture is ready for the sugar when you can put a little of it on a plate, turn the plate upside down and it doesn't fall off.

"It's got a taste of it' own. It's like sweet apples," he said.

"The star of the festival is really the spicy apple butter," said festival coordinator Beth Curtin, who is also executive director of the event's sponsor, the Berkeley Springs Chamber of Commerce.

But the apple butter is just part of what draws an estimated 40,000 people to the annual festival, which continues today.

There's the Saturday morning parade, more than 200 arts and crafts vendors, face-painting booths, music and the smell of food cooking on every block of the small town.

The festival continues at noon today and features an egg toss and a hog-calling contest.

"I like everything, and just running around with friends," said Michael Edelman, 13, of Berkeley Springs, who was sporting newly painted red hair.

Cousins Danielle Sims and Kaitlin Jurasek, both 11 and with their faces painted, said the morning parade was their favorite event of the day.

"We come every year for the whole thing," said Jeri Hoffman, 62, of Edgemere, Md. "I look forward to the whole festival."

Hoffman's next-door neighbor Verna Gray, 75, said, "I like all the crafts and the people and eating all the food."

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