By Rick Palsgrove
One can just sense it in the autumn air – it’s time for Apple Butter Day.
Groveport’s 46th annual Apple Butter Day will be held in Groveport’s Heritage Park, 551 Wirt Road, near and around the historic log house on Oct. 12 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Apple Butter Day is rich in tradition featuring historical demonstrations, crafters, and great food – especially the piping hot, freshly stirred apple butter slathered on homemade bread. There’s nothing like the taste of homemade apple butter cooked over a wood fire to make one embrace autumn.
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.
There are volunteer opportunities available to help on Apple Butter Day. Volunteer to: stir and jar apple butter in Heritage Park, four stirrers needed at all times and there is a need for as many people as possible; slicing bread in the shelter house by the log house in Heritage Park; working in booths (two hour shifts, beginning at 10 a.m.) selling apple butter in jars or on slices, helping stir and jar the apple butter, and selling quilt tickets.
The Groveport Log House
A center piece of Heritage Park and Apple Butter Day 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.
The log house will be open throughout Apple Butter Day.
Sharp’s Landing building
Visitors to Apple Butter Day can get a glimpse of the area’s Ohio and Erie Canal past because, across Wirt Road from the log house and Heritage Park, the Groveport Heritage Society reconstructed a 62×21 foot, one story, brick, 19th century canal era building. Visit the building from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Apple Butter Day.
The building is believed to have been used as a smokehouse, bakery, and ice house that sat along the Ohio and Erie Canal in what was once Sharp’s Landing at the corner of Rohr and Pontius roads.
In 2015, a warehouse development planned for the structure’s original Rohr Road site required the more than century old building be either demolished or moved. The Groveport Heritage Society dismantled the building and had the pieces moved and reassembled at its current site across from the log house along Wirt Road. The building serves as a museum to represent the commercial life that once operated along the canal.
Music and entertainment
Music will grace the festival as the Out of Mind Bluegrass Band, Mad River Tradition, The Hamiltons, and Bo Richardson will perform on the main stage.
The Madison Christian Band and Delightful Sounds (acoustic folk) will perform in front of the log house. Storyteller Ellen Ford will be at Palm Pond from 2-4 p.m. Johnny Appleseed will roam the festival grounds.
Apple Butter Day activities
The day features craft demonstrations, historical demonstrations, hayrides, pony rides, children’s activities, and food vendors. There will also be a display of antique tractors. The cane 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 raffle ticket for a chance to win the Apple Butter Day quilt.
Apple Butter Day 5K
Register for the Apple Butter Day 5K and 1 Mile Walk on Oct. 12. The route will begin and end in Groveport Park, 7370 Groveport Road. All ages welcome. The 1-mile walk starts at 9 a.m. and the 5K at 9:30 a.m. For on-site registrations, register no less than 20-minutes prior to the start of your event. Fee is $10 for the 1-mile and $20 for the 5K. Register through Oct. 12. Register by Oct. 4 to be guaranteed an event t-shirt. Call 614-836-1000 for information.
Four years ago, the Groveport Parks Department planted 30 apple trees in the Palm Pond area of Heritage Park. The trees will potentially offer a variety of apples including Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Wealthy, Haralred, Gravenstein, Honey Crisp, Red Delicious, Zestar, Gala, and McIntosh. Our ancestors commonly planted apple trees in Groveport in the 19th century. Some of the trees are starting to produce apples. The hope is to use some of the apples from these young trees at future Apple Butter Day festivals. Visit the orchard and check out the growth of the trees.
Free shuttle service
The Groveport Transportation Department will provide free shuttle service to and from Apple Butter Day. The shuttle will leave Groveport Park, 7370 Groveport Road (lower most parking lot) every half hour at the top and bottom of the hour beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m. The shuttle will leave the corner of Wirt Road and Cherry Street every half hour at the quarter hour beginning at 9:15 a.m. and ending at 5:15 p.m.
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.