Homecoming centered around apples

October 07, 2004|by Cheryl M. Keyser

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - The warm aroma of apple butter burbling in copper kettles over an open fire will scent the air Saturday, Oct. 9, and Sunday, Oct. 10, at the 31st Apple Butter Festival in Berkeley Springs.

"Apple butter making is always a community affair because you need many hands to produce it," said Beth Peters Curtin, executive director of the Morgan County Chamber of Commerce.

Lots of people must be standing by to tend the fire, prepare the apples, spice the butter and can the results.

And plenty of strong arms must be available to stir the mixture continually from 5 a.m., when the kettles start warming up, to late afternoon when lines form to purchase the sweet treat.


"They sell every lick of it," Curtin said.

Apple butter will be made on Fairfax Street throughout the festival.

The festival parade will start at 9 a.m. Saturday and feature local marching units and bands. The route begins at Berkeley Springs High School and winds along Washington Street.

"It's a real hometown parade," Curtin said.

Apple butter is the focal point of the festival, but there are many distractions. The Saturday turtle race at 11 a.m. will offer folks the opportunity to field their best trained specimens. The apple butter and baked goods contest will begin at 9 a.m., and conclude at 1:45 p.m. with cakes, pies and other food. And for more hirsute men, women will judge beards and mustaches at 2:50 p.m.

At 1:15 p.m. Sunday, brave pairs can participate in a raw egg toss, with the victor holding the last whole egg. At 2:15 p.m., a hog-calling contest (beginners are welcome) will be judged by local experts. And at 4:15 p.m. the Apple Butter Quilt, commissioned annually by the Chamber of Commerce, will be raffled. This year's tulip garden design was made by Rika Bennett.

Throughout both days, local bands from Morgan County and Winchester, Va., will perform mountain music, bluegrass and more.

These events, most of which have been highlights of the festival since it started in 1974, will be held at the bandstand in the Berkeley Springs State Park.

"We expect some 40,000 people," Curtin said. "This is like a homecoming for people who have moved away to return and for friends and relatives to congregate."

Cheryl M. Keyser is a freelance writer for The Herald-Mail.

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