No Apple Butter Day festival, just the sale of jars of apple butter

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By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor

Apple Butter Day will not be the same this year, but the spirit of the day can live on in

Messenger photo by Rick Palsgrove
Groveport’s Bob Cramer stirring apple butter at a past Apple Butter Day.

the community in spite of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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.

The festival has grown over the years, with the city’s help, into the large, popular festival it has become.

However, like many things in this coronavirus pandemic dominated year, Groveport’s Apple Butter Day is going to be a lot different this year. A whole lot different.

This version of Apple Butter Day
“It’s going to be a scaled down event,” said Groveport City Administrator B.J. King.

King said he and representatives of the Groveport Heritage Society met with the Franklin County Health Department to come up with a way to somehow make Apple Butter Day happen this year.

The result is that this year the festival itself will not exist as there will be no craft booths, no historical displays, no bands, no entertainment (except for the possibility of piped up bluegrass music), no public attendance, no anything at Apple Butter Day except for the drive through sale of jars of apple butter.

City officials had hoped to shoot off the unused Fourth of July fireworks on the evening of Apple Butter Day. However, city officials stated on Aug. 24 that the Apple Butter Day fireworks are now cancelled.

According to information provided to the city by the Groveport Heritage Society, jars of apple butter will be sold for $5 per jar from three or four drive through stations set up along Wirt Road in front of the Sharp’s Landing building and the log house on Oct. 10. Buyers will drive down Wirt Road from Main Street and be guided to a specific pick up station and exit through College Street or Rohr Road. There is a limit of two jars of apple butter purchased per family and payment is in cash only. Those wishing to purchase apple butter must call 614-836-3333 to order and arrange a pick up time within a two hour window. Pick up times are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. After 4 p.m. apple butter will be sold without appointments.

A small group of volunteers will make apple butter in Heritage Park on Oct. 3.

“It’s important we keep the annual tradition of Apple Butter Day and its unbroken streak of being held since 1974, even though it is significantly different this year,” said King.

Remembering Apple Butter Day
In normal years, 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.

Usually on Apple Butter Day, people who have long moved away stop by the old town to see family and friends and then wander the festival grounds in Heritage Park. For those who have remained in town, it’s a chance to get reacquainted with neighbors. Though the pandemic has interrupted this tradition, we can still enjoy time with close family and friends in controlled settings of our choosing.

Remember, Apple Butter Day encourages us to slow down, enjoy friends and family, embrace the pleasures of simple foods, and reinforce our links to the past.

Keep Apple Butter Day spirit alive
Apple Butter Day encourages us to embrace Groveport’s history, our sense of community and sense of place. Even though we cannot all gather together like we usually do in Heritage Park for the festival this year, there are still things we can do and enjoy to keep the spirit of Apple Butter Day alive in our hearts and minds. I suggest taking a walk around town sometime this fall at your convenience and discover the following:

•Historical Markers: Did you know there are several historical markers located in the city of Groveport? They are at: the log house in Heritage Park; the Sharp’s Landing building on Wirt Road; in front of Middle School Central on Main Street; near Groveport Town Hall on Main Street; in Blacklick Park; and at Canal Lock 22 in Groveport Park.

Take a history walk and check them out! While you are out and about, also go see the sculpture of Cruiser and John S. Rarey at the Groveport Recreation Center.

•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.

•Apple orchard: A few 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.
•Sharp’s Landing building: On your walks around town, 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.

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. The building represents the commercial life that once operated along the canal.

Together We Can Overcome 5K Run
The Groveport Recreation Center will hold the Together We Can Overcome 5K Run on Oct. 10 in Groveport Park, 7370 Groveport Road.

This event replaces the Apple Butter Day 5K and will look much different due to COVID-19. Check in begins at 9 a.m. and the run begins at 9:30 a.m. Fee is $12 per person.

All ages welcome. Walkers also welcome. Social distancing will be stressed, including a staggered start, wide passing, and wearing face coverings up until the start of the event. The run will be a fun run, not a competitive run. Keep your own time. The run is limited to 125 participants. Run/walk will begin and end in Groveport Park. Course maps are available on the recreation department website. Pre-registration required.

Registration runs through Oct. 8. Registration is available in person at the Groveport Recreation Center or online. For information go to www.groveportrec.com and look under fall special events.

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