Sep. 17—At 7 years old, Casey Schraeder of Murrysville was already showing a keen eye for economics.
"He was part of the baking contest at the Delmont Apple 'n Arts Festival, and he wanted to know why the adults got more money for winning than the kids," said Schraeder's grandmother Angela Warfsman.
Schraeder, now 16, and his older brother Travis have become veterans of the baking contest at the annual festival, which will mark its 40th anniversary Oct. 1-2 at Shields Farm in Delmont.
From the century-old apple press creating thousands of gallons of fresh cider to the cute faces in the Baby Apple Cheeks Contest — in which the Schraeder brothers were also former participants — the festival brings a weekend of food, fun and music to the borough.
Organizer Brandy Walters has been involved with the festival since she was younger than the Schraeders.
"I was always part of the Presbyterian church group, and we'd make apple butter on-site in these big kettles that my family owned," Walters said. "We used my grandmother's recipe, and I'd stand there and stir forever. Sometimes I was in charge of jarring it when it came out of the kettle."
And while the festival happens late enough in the season so as not to be in competition with the host of late-summer and early-fall festivals in the region, the timing always makes weather a bit of a concern.
"The weather is always a question, and getting enough volunteers is becoming a struggle," Walters said. "Murrysville Alliance Church is helping with our parking as they've done in the past, but they've had to scale back as well for a lack of volunteers."
Festival organizers will do away with off-site parking at Steel City Raceway, opting for the nearby Eastview Union Cemetery parking area.
"The Delmont Visionary Committee members are going to help us with parking over there," Walters said.
Festival organizers will bring Fab Four cover band Beatlemania to headline this year's festival on Sunday afternoon. There will performances Saturday by Christian rock band Fire Escape (10 a.m.), Keystone Contemporary Ballet (2 p.m.) and the Marshele Bradford Exchange (3 and 5 p.m.) along with the Wild World of Animals (4 p.m.).
Sunday will include an 11 a.m. non-denominational church service, Wild World of Animals at noon, and Beatlemania Magic from 3-5 p.m.
There will be a host of children's activities throughout the festival including a petting zoo, train rides, an apple slingshot and more.
As for the Schraeder brothers, they haven't yet settled on a recipe for this year's baking contest.
"I really enjoy taking all these random things, throwing them together and out comes a chocolate chip cookie or an apple pie," Casey said.
His brother agreed. "I don't cook as often as Casey, but it's a lot of fun," Travis said. "It's a challenge, almost like building a puzzle. And if you do it right, you have a delicious treat, and you can show it off to other people."
That challenge has translated to multiple awards for the pair over the years. Travis was sitting in his grandmother's kitchen, looking at old photos from the contest.
"Oh wow, I won $50 this year," he said, pointing to a photo.
Almost immediately, the sibling rivalry came to the surface.
"Yeah. But I won $100 that year," Casey said over his shoulder.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .