Oct. 8—GRAND RAPIDS, Ohio — It started as a historical society fund-raiser in 1977.
Now it attracts nearly 25,000 fans to the village annually, all drawn by the enticing aroma of apple butter.
After last year's hiatus, the Applebutter Fest returns to Grand Rapids, Ohio, on Sunday, when it will celebrate its 44th year. Festival co-chair Chuck Thomas said there will be plenty to do at the free festival between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., including living history demonstrations, an antique car show, musical entertainment, a juried art and craft show, and children's activities.
The Wood County Health Department will offer vaccinations this year at the fire station.
But the apple butter, of course, is the star attraction.
IF YOU GO
What: Applebutter Fest
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Where: Downtown Grand Rapids.
Admission: Admission is free and parking is $15
Angie Miller, a first-time volunteer serving on the canning committee, said the apple butter is one of a kind.
"They brought around samples while we were canning last week, and I'm telling you it was so amazing," she said. "I told them they need to bring more samples around."
Miller said the festival's rich history attracted her to volunteering.
"I moved to the community around a year ago and wanted to connect, and what better way to do so than to join a tradition of 44 years making apple butter," she said. "I've loved it! I enjoy giving back, and I've met so many people. I'm down at the old fire station using a 100-year-old apple peeler. I love this history, so this opportunity is really cool."
Miller said there's a lot of effort that goes into creating the beloved apple butter.
"The kettles take at least five hours of constant stirring to make sure the apple butter isn't burning. We start the kettles very early in the morning, and our first kettle is due to come off around noon. We'll then can it immediately and make sure it's sealed and start the second kettle," she said.
Thomas said the event has evolved significantly since its inception as a fund-raiser for the Grand Rapids Historical Society.
"It's really grown because of our offerings. It's always on a Sunday, and the whole experience is a wonderful opportunity for families. It makes for a nice day. You don't have to do anything but relax on the river, or you can do a lot with our activities," he said.
Thomas said organizers are ecstatic to bring the festival back following last year's cancellation due to the pandemic.
"We're excited about getting back at it. My wife and I have been to different events throughout the year now that things are loosening up. For a while, people had gotten used to not being able to do anything, but now folks are getting out, leaving their homes," he said.
He added that he anticipates welcoming attendees back for yet another year of tradition and history.
"I love the village, and it's one of the biggest events we have. Each year it brings a lot of nice people to our village and our downtown area. We also have a gorgeous location along the river and have one of the best views, if not the best views, in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan," he said.
First Published October 8, 2021, 8:00am