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Red Hots and pennies give W.Va. applesauce a boost

Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival Arts & Crafts Show held at Berkeley County Youth Fairgrounds

Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival Arts & Crafts Show held at Berkeley County Youth Fairgrounds

October 20, 2007|By DON AINES

MARTINSBURG, W.VA.

About the first thing to greet visitors Saturday at the XXVIII Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival Arts & Crafts Show was a whiff of smoke from an open fire and the aroma of simmering apple butter.

"We've been doing this for about 10 years here," said Bill Johnson of St. Leo's Knights of Columbus of Inwood, W.Va. "You can core and peel and crush the apples yourself, or you can do like we do ? cheat."

The Knights start their recipe with applesauce made from West Virginia apples, Johnson said as Less Hellem stirred the thickening butter with a wooden paddle. There are a couple of secret ingredients ? Red Hots candy and five copper pennies, he said.

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The candy "gives it a little bit of spice," Hellem said. The pennies, Johnson said, help keep the butter from sticking to the bottom of the kettle.

A bit further into the Berkeley County Youth Fairgrounds, the aroma changed to that of a hearty meal at the Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast. More than 550 people had come through by late morning.

About 250 pounds of pancake mix, 250 dozen eggs, 30 cases of sausage patties and about 1,500 cans of apple juice were needed to feed the crowds expected Saturday and today, Kiwanis Treasurer Bob Cross said.

The money raised benefits the Special Olympics, Relay for Life, Boys & Girls Clubs and other charities, he said.

"It's a wonderful thing," Cross said. "You see a lot of people and you put a lot of money back into the community."

Not far from the pavilion where breakfast was being dished out, Frank Graves was beating red-hot iron into an ornamental wall hook. The owner of Rockdale Forge Ironworks, Graves said smithing is far from a fading art.

"There's more of us out there than you realize," Graves said. As a boy, he recalled going to Williamsburg, Va., and seeing a smith at work.

"It was like watching magic happen," Graves said. A number of visitors paused to watch him work his magic with an anvil, hammer and wrought iron.

Mike and Carolyn Russler own a sawmill, and much of what is left over has been turned into crafts, such as their Hillbilly Hardwoods benches.

"We've got an abundance of wood left over from the sawmill," Carolyn Russler said. "A lot of this would have gone in the burn pile, but I keep pulling it out."

Dana Lineberry and her husband, Shannon, drove more than 150 miles from Fairfield, Va., for the fair, where she found herself doing some of Clarence Nissley's work. She was learning chair caning while he chatted with customers and made sales.

"He's likes to talk and he's a really nice man," Dana Lineberry said as she wove a chair seat.

"We're having fun," Nissley said, having just sold a couple of chairs.

Hundreds of people wandered about the craft stands Saturday, sampling and buying the wares of West Virginia artisans. The arts and crafts show continues today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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