Local Lifestyle, News

47th Apple Butter Festival returns with new attractions

One of the largest and longest running fall festivals in West Virginia, the 47th annual Apple Butter Festival in historic Berkeley Springs, is making its triumphant return. The festival is this Saturday and Sunday, October 8 and 9, and is a family tradition for tens of thousands of folks every year.

After being cancelled for two years due to the pandemic, festival organizers are excited to bring the festival back bigger and better than ever.

A nostalgic hometown parade with the theme All Together Now kicks off the festivities on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. followed by two days of family- friendly games and contests, music, country food, arcade games, fine arts and local crafts. The undisputed star of the festival remains the spicy apple butter being stirred in giant copper kettles in the Square, and Greenwood Community Center is taking center stage in this crucial effort that creates lifelong memories for so many festivalgoers. They can’t wait for folks to take a stir at the kettles, experience the mouthwatering aroma, and carry off fresh-made apple butter. Long- time festival organizer Jeanne Mozier always noted, “Kids stirring apple butter in the kettles is the most photographed activity of the festival.” Mozier is remembered and honored this year in the Apple Butter Festival Memory book.

Grand marshal for the parade is powerhouse Empire Cheer. In just five years this impressive local group has gone from one team practicing in a church, to five teams with over 60 first place banners and 18 national titles in their own practice facility. They will perform in the parade and also at the Berkeley Springs State Park band- stand Saturday afternoon.

The Craft Beer Garden continues to be a hit as festivalgoers sample from local breweries and distributors. While sampling, listen to the hot acoustic bluegrass sound of “All Grassed Up,” performing both days. Added to the fun this year is Axe Hole axe throwing, new in the beer garden.

The Festival Food Court always has the biggest crowds as people line up for a variety of tastes from standard festival treats like BBQ, funnel cakes, corn dogs and fried oreos, to specialty trucks serving tacos, crab cakes and Greek foods.

The musical line-up returns favorites to perform from the park bandstand. Saturday’s music opens with Devil In The Hills Band, a groovy gumbo of country, swing, blues, rock & swamp boogie with Morgan County’s own Mary Hott & Billy Thompson. Saturday afternoon features the Carpenter Ants with their old time rhythm and blues, gospel and country funk sound. The Carpenter Ants are one of West Virginia’s longest lasting bands, fine musicians and frequent performers on the internationally renowned Mountain Stage radio show.

Favorite bluegrass group Marv Ashby and High Octane performs on Sunday.

Family-friendly games draw huge crowds to watch gentlemen strut their faces as their beards are judged for length, softness and style, amateurs calling hogs, rubber ducks racing down the springs that give the town its name, and pairs of contest- ants tossing raw eggs. Lines form to buy winning entries in the apple bake contest.

This year the baking contest will be judged by Netflix “Is it Cake?” and “Halloween Wars” Food Network star Steven Weiss, Associate Dean of Culinary Arts and Hospitality at Blue Ridge Community And Technical College.

West Virginia wines are featured vendors, along with local produce, honey, home preserves and more apple butter. More than 100 new and returning favorite con- temporary and traditional artists and craftspeople dis- play and sell their work in the streets, local shops and at the Ice House showing why Berkeley Springs regularly places among the top art destinations in America.

There is no admission fee to the festival.