Turtle race highlights Apple Butter Festival

October 10, 2009|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- The slight chill in the air did not keep people from attending the first day of the 36th annual Apple Butter Festival on Saturday.

About 40,000 people are expected to attend the event this weekend, said Laura Smith of Travel Berkeley Springs.

"It's cool and fall-like and it's festival weather," Smith said. "The changing leaves are a backdrop. It's nice weather."

More than 200 people gathered in front of the magistrate courthouse on Fairfax Street to watch the 36th annual turtle race, which set a record with 38 turtle entrants this year.

The event is sponsored by the Morgan County Boys and Girls Club, and the contest is led by Dr. Bob Bellissimo, advisory member for the club.

"This is my seventh year doing this," Bellissimo said. "I have so much fun."

Children brought turtles in cardboard boxes filled with grass, containers and even in cat carriers and waited for their turtle's number to be called for a race.


Phoebe Hogbin, 6, and Molli Hogbin, 4, entered Tortilla, a very small turtle that Sarah Hogbin, their mother, held in her hand to keep Tortilla warm until called upon to race.

"She's ready," Sarah Hogbin said right before the race began, but Tortilla was not fast enough to pull out a win.

Bellissimo said the event has become so popular that children come from other parts of the area to participate, and "most Berkeley Springs kids want to participate that you don't have to remind them."

Waiting for the concert to begin in Berkeley Springs State Park, Marie Householder, 90, and Louisa Householder, her grandson's wife, sat side by side in lawn chairs with their legs covered with a blanket.

Marie Householder lives in Berkeley Springs now, but until seven years ago, she lived in Great Cacapon, W.Va. She has been coming to the Apple Butter Festival all her life, she said, and it's a family tradition to get together every year.

Louisa and Troy Householder came from Bridgeport, W.Va., and Mary Sergek, Marie Householder's stepdaughter, came from North Carolina, she said.

Louisa Householder said they watch the parade each year in the same spot on Washington Street and set up their chairs in the park under the same tree. About 13 family members gathered this year, she said.

Until this year, their special traditional festival meal that Marie made was ham pot pie, coleslaw, green beans and Harvard beets. Sometimes, apple pie would be served for dessert, Marie Householder said.

This year, they all are going out for pizza for dinner, but Marie made sloppy Joes, cake and brownies for lunch.

Marie Householder will be 91 on Oct. 18 and the family will celebrate her birthday next Sunday. Mary Sergek will make her cake, she said.

J.D. Smalley was taking his turn stirring the kettle of apple butter being made by the Pleasant View Community Center. Smalley said he will stir the apple butter that was being cooked Saturday for about a half-hour at a time.

Smalley lives in the Pleasant View community in eastern Morgan County. He is a 2007 Berkeley Springs High School graduate and got his degree in May from Fairmont (W.Va.) State University.

On Oct. 19, he begins as a sign language interpreter at Western Heights Middle School in Hagerstown.

If you go

What: 36th annual Apple Butter Festival

When: Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Where: Berkeley Springs (W.Va.) State Park

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