By Rick Palsgrove
There’s nothing like the taste of homemade apple butter cooked over a wood fire to make one embrace autumn.
Groveport’s 43rd annual Apple Butter Day will be held in Groveport’s Heritage Park near the historic log house on Wirt Road on Oct. 8 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Apple Butter Day is an event rich in tradition featuring historical demonstrations, crafters, and great food – especially the piping hot, freshly stirred apple butter slathered on homemade bread.
Apples played a vital role in 19th century 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 as a way to pay tribute to the town’s pioneer past and to educate people about what life was once 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 is a familiar old friend on the calendar. The day has a relaxed atmosphere and every year one can get a hearty bowl of bean soup and warm cornbread and then follow that up with an ample slice of homemade bread topped with warm, sweet apple butter. It’s a day to be spent outdoors reveling in what fall has to offer before gray, cold November drives everyone indoors.
Apple Butter Day is a homecoming. It is a day when people who have long moved away stop by the old town again to see family and friends. It is a day for those who have remained in town to reacquaint themselves with their neighbors. It is a day that encourages us to slow down. It is a day to enjoy the pleasures of simple foods. It is a day that reinforces our link to those who have gone before us and to those who will follow.
Try your hand at stirring apple butter
There are volunteer opportunities available to help with Groveport’s Apple Butter Day. Contact Groveport Heritage and Preservation Society President Carla Cramer at (614) 836-9113 or (614) 580-9099 if you wish to volunteer. Volunteer opportunities are:
•Oct. 1 any time between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. – Stir and jar apple butter in Heritage Park. Four stirrers needed at all times. There is a need for as many people as possible. Jarring begins around noon.
•Oct. 7 from 10 a.m. to noon – Slicing bread in the shelter house by the log house in Heritage Park.
•Oct. 8 – Apple Butter Day volunteers needed from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. – Work 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.
“This is a community effort,” said Cramer. “Also, we welcome any organizations that would like to spend an hour or two helping.”
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.
The Apple Butter Day spelling bee will be held at 1 p.m. on Oct. 8 on the main stage in Heritage Park, located on Wirt Road in Groveport, with entrants needing to report at 12:30 p.m. Any student in grades four or five, from any school district, is welcome to enter. Prizes are awarded for first and second place. There is a limit of 20 entrants and the deadline for entries is Oct. 6. Parents may call (614) 580-9099 to enter their child.
Music and entertainment
Music will grace the main stage in Heritage Park as well as in and around the log house. Musical performers include Bo Richardson, Cedar Hill Bluegrass, Madison Christian Band, Delightful Sounds, Vintage Ramblers, and Mark Springer, Roger Tedrow and Sharon Tedrow.
Other historical themed entertainment includes a Johnny Appleseed portrayer, who will be roaming the grounds, and storyteller Ellen Ford.
Apple Butter Day activities
New this year will be a small steam engine demonstration near Palm Pond. Also new will be “Bring the Farm to You,” which includes an old fashioned homestead for children to explore. Kids will visit stations to grind and sift grain, roll dough, comb wool, use washboards, and play with rolling hoops, stilts, wooden toys, wagons, and more.
The day features craft demonstrations, hayrides, pony rides and a petting zoo for kids, and food vendors. Crafters will be in the Palm Pond area. A display of antique tractors can be viewed near Palm Pond.
There will be cornbread and beans at KidSpace, 630 Wirt Road, and historical demonstrators in Heritage Park.
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.
Apple Butter Day 5K run/1 mile walk
The fourth annual Apple Butter Day 5K and 1 mile fun run/walk will be held Oct. 8 in Groveport Park, 7370 Groveport Road. The fun run/walk begins at 9 a.m. and the 5K starts at 9:30 a.m. Cost is $10 for the fun run/walk and $20 for the 5K. For information call (614) 836-1000.
Apple tree orchard
A year ago, the Groveport Parks Department planted 30 apple trees in the Palm Pond area of Heritage Park. The trees in the next couple of years 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. 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 a free shuttle service to and from Heritage Park for Apple Butter Day on Oct. 8. The shuttle will leave the Groveport Recreation Center, 7370 Groveport Road, every half hour beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m. The shuttle will leave the corner of Walnut and Canal streets every half hour beginning at 9:45 a.m. and ending at 6:15 p.m.
Groveport Heritage Museum
Interested in Groveport’s history? 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.