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Apple Butter Festival celebrates 50th year

Photo by Kim Parent

By Annabel Brooks, For The Miami Student

'Tis the season for apple picking. Oxford took the seasonal tradition one step further this past weekend with gallons upon gallons of apple butter.

Oct. 4 and 5 commemorated the Hueston Woods Apple Butter Festival's 50th anniversary at Pioneer Farm on Brown Road.

The festival, created in 1964 by the Oxford Museum Association, honored its 50th year of apple-churning demonstrations with children and adults alike lining up to take their turn cooking the apple butter.

Ben Jones, a Oxford Museum Association (OMA) board member estimates the festival receives three to four thousand visitors each year. Ultimately, despite the harsh winds and cool temperatures, the OMA considers this year's festival a success.

"The weather's been against us, but strictly from a sales standpoint we've done very well," Jones said.

Each batch of apple butter takes three to four hours to fully cook, so the lines filtered through quickly.

Melissa Petrick, a Miami University senior, visited the festival with her friends Saturday morning.

"We didn't churn it, but we watched other students do it," Petrick said. "It was chunkier than expected, but really good."

As well as apple butter, the festival offered a variety of other seasonal buys including cider, pumpkins and gourds.

Besides the festival's namesake displays, booths were set up around the farm selling a variety of local food, clothing, accessories and art. Jones explained that every year the OMA attempts to bring in new vendors.

"We are trying to continually forge partnerships with local businesses, like the Alpaca Farm where visitors are encouraged to meet the visiting alpacas and buy goods made from the alpaca wool," Jones said.

Tours were offered of the 1980s built Doty farmhouse and barn, with internal displays of pioneer museum articles. Stands outside were manned by volunteers demonstrating how to make a selection of pioneer crafts.

There were also volunteers clad in traditional historical costumes, reenacting America's historical scenes and posing for pictures with visitors.

"We are trying to expand the festival from an entertainment standpoint," Jones said. "Last year we collaborated with a local Native American tribe to put on native dance demonstrations and educate visitors on the history of the tribe."

This year's festival, because of its special anniversary, received notable recognition from the state and was able to put on free live folk music during Sunday's festivities.

The cost of attendance, $4 per adult, was a fundraiser for both the OMA's educational programs and support of maintaining Oxford's local historical sites. This year's festival proceeds are going toward maintaining three local historical grounds, the Doty Homestead, the Black Covered Bridge and the Dewitt Long Homestead, the oldest remaining log structure in Oxford Township, built in 1805.

This fundraiser has been in existence for as long as the festival. The OMA hopes the support and celebration will continue, and the executive board is already looking forward to next year's event, as well as planning the other festivals they organize like the Arts and Crafts Fair, and the Maple Syrup Festival.

The remaining apple butter, canned in pint and half-pint jars, is being sold by Ace Hardware on College Avenue in Oxford for anyone who missed the festivities or anyone who just can't get enough.