By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport’s traditional fall festival, Apple Butter Day, is celebrating its 48th year and will be held on Oct. 9 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Heritage Park, 551 Wirt Road in Groveport.
“Apple Butter Day is Groveport,” said Groveport Community Affairs Director Patty Storts. “This event, which annually attracts thousands of visitors rain or shine, is the perfect place to spend a fall Saturday. The smell of apple butter being made over an open fire, stirred by volunteers is the perfect backdrop for a day that is always memorable for all who attend. The event showcases unique, one of a kind crafts and primitive art items. Festival goers also have a variety of good homemade food to choose from while listening to live bluegrass music. The children’s area, ‘Appleseed Way,’ has lots of free activities for children to participate in. There is something for everyone at Groveport’s Apple Butter Day!”
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 apples over an open fire in a church parking lot. One can just sense the in the autumn air as September turns into October that it is time for Apple Butter Day.
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 refreshing treat picked right off the tree, could be used in many products used by the pioneers like dried apples, apple butter, 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.
On Apple Butter Day, people who have long moved away stop by the old town to see family and friends. 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 a jar of apple butter for $7 per jar or buy three jars for $20. There will be no apple butter served on bread slices sold at this year’s Apple Butter Day due to COVID restrictions.
Music at the festival includes the Hollertones from 10 a.m. to noon and Relentless Mules will be on the main stage from 12:15-2 p.m., both on the main stage. The Madison Christian Band will perform in front of the log house at noon. Delightful Sounds will perform inside the log house from noon to 2 p.m. TNT Bluegrass will perform on the main stage from 2:15-4 p.m. as well as Slick City Grass from 4:15-5:45 p.m.
Apple Butter Day activities
The day features homemade crafts, historical demonstrations, hayrides, pony rides, children’s activities, and food vendors. There will also be a display of antique tractors at Palm Pond. Johnny Appleseed will roam the festival grounds from noon to 3 p.m.
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 get to fish with a cane pole. Bait is provided.
Remember to buy a $1 raffle ticket for a chance to win the Apple Butter Day quilt. The winner will be announced at 5:45 p.m. You do not need to be present to win.
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
From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. get a glimpse of the area’s Ohio and Erie Canal past 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.
Groveport Heritage Museum
Visit the Groveport Heritage Museum, located in Groveport Town Hall, 648 Main St. The museum 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.