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Stirring up flavorful fun at Apple Butter Festival

October 10, 2004|by TRISH RUDDER/Staff Writer

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.VA. - Vendors offered crafts, clothing, apple butter and more apple butter as the 31st annual Apple Butter Festival kicked off Saturday in Berkeley Springs.

"It's a beautiful fall day and everybody is having a beautiful fall time," festival coordinator Beth Peters Curtin said. "Everything seems great."

About 40,000 people are expected to attend this year's festival, which continues today.

Tex Hessler of the Pleasant View Community Center was helping stir two 35-gallon kettles of apple butter on Fairfax Street. Hessler said he has been making apple butter at the festival for at least 15 years.

"Would you like to stir a round?" Hessler asked all who passed by.

The apples were washed on Friday and peeled, cored, cut and ready to go into the kettles on Saturday, Hessler said. Six pennies are put in the bottom of each kettle to prevent burning.


"My mother used peach pits," Hessler said.

Sugar goes into the kettles after the apples, and cinnamon and cloves are added right before the apple butter is ready.

The cooking started at 5 a.m. Saturday and the apple butter was ready around 2 p.m., Hessler said.

One year, the Pleasant View Community Center won first, second and third place in the apple butter contest. They usually sell out each year, and the profits go toward the upkeep of the center, Hessler said.

A few blocks away, the staff of Sage Moon Herb Shop and Wellness Center demonstrated Qi Gong, "a Chinese form of exercise that focuses on moving energy through the body's pathways and controlling the breath," acupuncturist Ruby Bienart said. The staff members wore festive medieval costumes.

Belle Lillard was born in Martinsburg, W.Va., and raised in Berkeley Springs. She lives in Fairfax, Va., but does not miss the Apple Butter Festival each year. One of her favorite things is to see the Critton Hollow String Band perform. Lillard, 23, said she has known singer-musician Sam Hermann all of her life.

Lillard and the rest of the crowd around the bandstand enjoyed the group's performance as leaves were falling on the warm, sunny day. Critton Hollow has performed at the festival since 1976.

Janet Rogers of Camden County, N.J., and her sister, Stella Padilla of Delaware, have been coming to the festival for years. Their grandmother had a cabin in nearby Great Cacapon, W.Va.

They visit family throughout the year, said Padilla, but they don't miss the Apple Butter Festival.

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