By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport’s traditional fall festival, Apple Butter Day, will celebrate its 50th year and will be held on Oct. 14 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Heritage Park, 551 Wirt Road in Groveport.
The event celebrates Groveport’s history and features kettles of homemade apple butter cooked over wood fires.
“Apple Butter Day is the heart of the community,” said Groveport Mayor Lance Westcamp. “It’s where generations come together to create memories, where our small town’s history is celebrated, and where the smell of simmering apple butter reminds us of simpler times. The festival is special to the community because it connects us all, from old-timers to newcomers, in a tradition that keeps our town’s rich heritage alive.”
Groveport Community Affairs Director Jessica Wyke said, in celebration of the 50th Apple Butter Day, the Groveport Heritage Society will be selling apple butter on bread slices for 50 cents.
“They’ll also be bringing back traditional activities such as a spelling bee and pie eating contest,” said Wyke. “The city of Groveport will be selling commemorative 50th Apple Butter Day shirts for $10, cash only.
Apple Butter Day history
The festival has been a mainstay and focal point for the community since October 1974 when it began as a simple gathering of friends cooking apple butter over an open fire in a church parking lot.
Apples were important to Ohio’s and Groveport’s pioneer agricultural economy and daily life. Apples could be stored year round and travelled well when shipped over the rough roads or the slow moving freight boats on the Ohio and Erie Canal.
Apples, in addition to being a treat picked right off the tree, could be used in many products used by the pioneers like dried apples, apple butter, cider, hard cider, apple brandy, apple chips, and vinegar. They were even fed to hogs, which were important livestock to the Ohio pioneer.
The Groveport Heritage Society created Apple Butter Day to pay tribute to the town’s pioneer past and to educate people about what life was like in Groveport and nearby farms in the 19th and 20th centuries. The festival strives to remain true to the area’s historic roots. Apple Butter Day has a relaxed atmosphere and it’s a day to be spent outdoors reveling in what fall has to offer before gray, cold November drives everyone indoors.
People who have long moved away from Groveport stop by the old town to see family and friends on Apple Butter Day. For those who have remained in town, it’s a chance to get reacquainted with neighbors. Apple Butter Day encourages us to slow down, enjoy the pleasures of simple foods, and reinforces our link to the past.
Apple butter for sale
You may purchase apple butter for $7 per jar or get a slice of bread with apple butter for 50 cents. Cash only.
Music and entertainment
Music on the Heritage Park main stage at the festival includes Wade & Darr from 11 a.m. to noon; Ten Cents Off from 12:30-2 p.m.; Lewis Pride Band from 2:30-4 p.m. and The Sodbusters from 4:30-6 p.m.
There will also be a performance by the Wagnalls Community Theater on stage from 10-10:30 a.m.
The Madison Christian School Band will perform on Wirt Road from noon to 12:15 p.m.
Apple Butter Day activities
The day features homemade crafts, pioneer demonstrations, hayrides, handmade crafts, pony rides, children’s activities, and food vendors. There will also be a display of antique tractors. All children’s activities and the antique tractors will be located by Palm Pond.
The cane pole fishing derby for kids age 15 and under will be held at Palm Pond from 10:30-11:30 a.m. (sign up at 10 a.m.). The first 50 kids receive a cane pole and bait.
Quilt raffle tickets are 50 cents.
The Apple Butter Day Spelling Bee will be held on Oct. 14 at 2 p.m. in Heritage Park. The spelling bee is open to students in grades four and five. the event is limited to the first 20 entrants. The winner receives $50 cash award. Call 614-580-9099 to enter or for information. Entrants must be at the stage behind the log house by 1:45 p.m. on Oct. 14.
The Groveport Log House
A center piece of Groveport history is the 1815 era Groveport Log House.
The log house originally sat on the southwest corner of Main and Madison streets, where the Groveport Post Office is now located. Workers discovered the log house as they were dismantling it in 1974 to make way for the Post Office. Volunteers from the Groveport Heritage and Preservation Society pitched in to preserve the house and in 1974, with help from the United States Army Corps of Engineers, moved it to its present location in Heritage Park.
Over the years the log house has under gone historical restorations and renovations, but it remains a historical focal point for Groveport and serves as an example of our pioneer ancestors’ way of life. If you are taking a walk around town, take a peek at this piece of tangible history.
A few years ago, the Groveport Parks Department planted 30 apple trees in the Palm Pond area of Heritage Park. The trees offer a variety of apples including Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Wealthy, Haralred, Gravenstein, Honey Crisp, Red Delicious, Zestar, Gala, and McIntosh. The hope is to use some of the apples from these trees at future Apple Butter Day festivals. Visit the orchard and check out the trees’ growth.
Sharp’s Landing building
Get a glimpse of the area’s Ohio and Erie Canal past and take an audio tour by visiting the Sharp’s Landing building across Wirt Road from the log house and Heritage Park. The Groveport Heritage Society reconstructed the 62×21 foot, one story, brick, 19th century canal era building from original materials. The building is believed to have been used as a smokehouse, bakery, and ice house. It sat along the Ohio and Erie Canal in what was once Sharp’s Landing at the corner of Rohr and Pontius roads. The building represents the commercial life that once operated along the canal.
Volunteers are needed to sell apple butter on bread slices, sell jars of apple and pumpkin butter, sell quilt raffle tickets, and monitor the 50-year display inside the log house. For information call Carla Cramer at 614-580-9099.
The Groveport Madison Area Community Choir will sell raffle tickets to win a beautiful handcrafted rocking horse. “Rocking Cruiser” was specifically created for this raffle by Wooden Memories. Tickets are $5 each and will be available on Apple Butter Day on Oct. 14 at the Wooden Memories booth. You can also purchase raffle tickets by emailing GMACCTickets@gmail.com. Cash, checks and Venmo will be accepted. The drawing will occur on the day of the Groveport Madison Area Communith Choir’s next show, “The British Are Coming: A Musical Variety Show,” on Feb. 24, 2024. Tickets will be sold until that date.
Groveport Heritage Museum
The Groveport Heritage Museum, located in Groveport Town Hall, 648 Main St., features photographs, newspapers, maps and historical artifacts of Groveport’s history.
No dogs allowed
Per city ordinance, people are prohibited from bringing animals to city sponsored event and festival areas, which includes Apple Butter Day. The law does not apply to guide or service dogs, police dogs, animal exhibits at the events, or pets on residential properties within the event area.