For more than three decades the second Saturday in October has been a special time in the village of Groveport where people gather to enjoy each other’s company and some warm, tasty apple butter.
Groveport’s Apple Butter Day was born 35 years ago in Shoemaker Alley near the Presbyterian Church on a frosty October morning. Ever since then, folks have flocked to Groveport for the tradition rich event every year to see historical demonstrations, visit crafters, and eat great food – especially the piping hot, freshly stirred apple butter slathered on homemade bread.
Because of its popularity, Apple Butter Day swiftly outgrew its original 1974 festival site in Shoemaker Alley and soon moved to Heritage Park on Wirt Road with the 1815 era log house as its focal point.
Apple Butter Day, co-sponsored by the Groveport Heritage and Preservation Society (GHPS) and the village of Groveport, will be held in Heritage Park by the historic log house on Wirt Road on Oct. 11 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
One reason apples were selected as the theme of the annual fall festival is because the fruit played a vital role in the pioneer agricultural economy and daily life. Apples could be stored year round and travelled well when shipped over the rough 19th century roads as well as the slow moving freight boats on the Ohio and Erie Canal. Apples, in addition to their normal form as a refreshing treat, could be used in a lot of products used by the pioneers like dried apples, apple butter, cider, apple brandy, apple chips, and vinegar. They could even be fed to hogs, which were important livestock to the Ohio pioneer.
The GHPS 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 on the farms surrounding the village in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The one day historical festival is notable in that it has not succumbed to the modern lure of corporate festival sponsorship and gaudy carnival style activities. The organizers from the GHPS and the village of Groveport strive to remain true to the town’s historic roots.
There’s something reassuring about Apple Butter Day’s familiarity and relaxed atmosphere, and in knowing that each year I 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, thick, brown, sweet apple butter.
Over the years there have been rainy, mud caked Apple Butter Days, but more often than not there have been warm days of high blue skies with the rays of the bright autumnal sun splashing the festival grounds. It’s a day to be spent outdoors reveling in what fall has to offer before gray, cold November drives everyone indoors.
Above all, the best aspect of Apple Butter Day is that it 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 a bit and leave our buzzing, beeping, bossy technology behind us for a while. It is a day when we can all 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 us.
Try your hand at stirring apple butter
Anyone is welcome to help stir and can fresh apple butter. Volunteers are needed. Hot apple butter on homemade bread slices will be for sale all day in the log house. Canned apple butter will be available for purchase.
Groveport Heritage Museum open
The Groveport Heritage Museum, located in Groveport Town Hall, 648 Main St., will be open throughout Apple Butter Day. The museum features photographs, newspapers, maps and historical artifacts of Groveport’s history.
Police cruiser replica bicycle
The Groveport Police Dept will raffle off a 12 inch bike that is made to look like one of the department’s new black and white police cruisers. The bike was donated by Officer Ernie Bell who painted it. The decals were done by the vendor that supplies the police cruiser decals. The decals feature Groveport Police, the village seal, license plate and the U.S. flag. All the decals are reflective just like the full size cars. The bike even has a battery operated flashing red light on the handlebars. The raffle is open to all children under age 7 and the bike will be on display at the police booth at Apple Butter Day.