By Rick Palsgrove
Summer has bid us farewell and that means Apple Butter Day is coming!
Groveport’s 45th annual Apple Butter Day will be held in Groveport’s Heritage Park, 551 Wirt Road, near and around the historic log house on Oct. 13 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.
There’s nothing like the taste of homemade apple butter cooked over a wood fire to make one embrace autumn.
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 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 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.
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 may have 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 and Preservation Society has reconstructed a 62×21 foot, one story, brick, 19th century canal era building. Visit the building from 11 a.m. to 5 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 GHPS dismantled the building and had the pieces moved and reassembled at its current site across from the log house along Wirt Road. The GHPS plans to use it as a museum to represent the commercial life that once operated along the canal.
GHPS President Craig Lovelace said the aim is to create an educational center that will highlight the building’s role as a stop along the Ohio and Erie Canal.
“It will provide visitors a look of everyday living at the time, including a slice of how people traveled and why,” said Lovelace. “History is meant to show us our similarities and differences with our ancestors, and impart lessons for how we can move forward. Reconstructing the building does just that. Saving it means new generations will get to learn about the importance of the Ohio canal system and how it opened up the state, and especially Central Ohio, to economic development.”
Music and entertainment
Music will grace the main stage in Heritage Park as well as in and around the log house. Musical performers include Berachal Valley, TNT Bluegrass, Madison Christian Band, Delightful Sounds, Tom Ewing & The Bluegrass Ramblers, and Kauffman Road.
Storyteller Ellen Ford will perform at Palm Pond from 2-4 p.m.
Bean/cornbread dinner changes
The Groveport Seniors will no longer be serving the traditional bean soup and cornbread in Crooked Alley KidSpace on Apple Butter Day on Oct. 13. Instead, the Kiwanis Club of Groveport Madison will serve cornbread and beans on site on Apple Butter Day in Heritage Park.
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.
Apple Butter Day 5K
The annual Apple Butter Day 5K and 1 mile fun run/walk will be held Oct. 13 in Groveport Park, 7370 Groveport Road. The 1 mile fun run/walk starts at 9 a.m. and the 5K run/walk starts at 9:30 a.m. Cost is $10 for the 1 mile fun run/walk and $20 for the 5K. Register at the Groveport Recreation Center, 7370 Groveport Road or call Amy Van Huffel at 614-836-1000 for information. The 5K route uses sidewalks, nature trails and the leisure path located at Groveport Park. All ages welcome.
Three 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 a free shuttle service to and from Crooked Alley KidSpace on Wirt road near the Apple Butter Day festival on Oct. 13. Shuttles will leave from the Groveport Recreation Center parking lot, 7370 Groveport Road, 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 starting at 9:15 a.m. and ending at 5:15 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.
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.
Blacklick Haunted Park
The city of Groveport Blacklick Haunted Park will be held Oct. 26 & 27 from 7:30-11 p.m. at Groveport Blacklick Park, located at the east end of Blacklick Street. Cost is $5 per person. Proceeds go to Groveport Madison Human Needs and the Groveport Food Pantry. The event is very scary so parental discretion is advised. Sponsored by the city of Groveport and Groveport residents.
Come meet “spirited” former residents of Groveport as they come to life to share their experiences from the past. This is a non-scary visit to the Groveport Cemetery where you will travel from “spirt” to “spirit” to hear pieces of history, folklore, and legends from “characters” such as Jacob Wert, an 1850s era mother, a Civil War soldier, and the cemetery sexton. Presented by the Groveport Heritage & Preservation Society on Oct. 26 from 6-7 p.m. at the Groveport Cemetery, 551 Wirt Road. Free.
Groveport trick or treat
Trick or treat will be held in Groveport on Oct. 31 from 5:30-7 p.m. Groveport Town Hall will be serving hot dogs, popcorn and drink courtesy of the Groveport Police Department, Madison Township Fire Department and Groveport Town Hall. Free. At 7 p.m. the annual Block Party will begin at Main and Front streets and includes a costume contest, the Groveport Madison High School band, the Cruiserettes, cider, and donuts. Sponsored by The Groveport Lions Club. Free.
Township trick or treat
Trick or treat will be held in the unincorporated areas of Madison Township on Oct. 31 from 5:30-7 p.m.