ENON – Becky McBride and daughter Crystal Dillingham stood near the front of the line Saturday, the first day of the Enon Apple Butter Festival in anticipation of getting the first batch of the event’s signature item. They had no problem waiting an hour-and-a-half before it went on sale.
Such things take time to perfect and with that in mind, with bags of goods and holiday furnishings they’d already purchased on the ground in front of them, it was OK waiting despite the smoke of the six 50-gallon copper kettles billowing, although they had sunshine and nearly perfect fall weather to bask in.
Dillingham, who is from Columbus and clad in University of Michigan gear, said this apple butter is made differently than what you’d find in a store, and she even wanted some to send back to someone in Arizona, so the wait was worth it.
Both veterans of the Apple Butter Festival, they were among the many excited for its return after missing a year due to the pandemic. The event will continue 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today; admission is free and apple butter will be for sale beginning at 1.
The event is presented by the Enon Community Historical Society as a community service project.
Being the festival season and coming off a year that saw few if any events, people like Shane and Ashley Lynch of Troy fill their weekends attending festivals. They brought along other family members and friends from Vandalia and Tipp City.
One of the reasons is the food selection, preferring to spend money that benefits local organizations, and another is the vast number of vendors with crafts and goods, which stretched almost endlessly up South Xenia Drive.
“They’re reasonably priced and they’re not the same ones you see at festival after festival,” said Ashley Lynch. Shane Lynch likes to shop with one of the furniture vendors and picks up signs from another.
Reactions like this help make only getting two hours of sleep the previous night more bearable for festival chair Jessi DeVore. She slept in her truck and had been out on the site in front of the former Enon Primary School since 6 a.m. Friday morning in preparation for the event.
That’s where the kettles simmered over open wood-burning fires with volunteers stirring with special rods in hour-long shifts. The fires were lit at 3 a.m. Saturday and the apple butter ingredients added and stirred by 5:30 a.m.; the stirring has to be constant so as not to allow the bottom portion to burn.
“I’m digging these colors, they make me happy,” said DeVore of being covered in various dark marks from her efforts. She’d gain a few moments of rest only to be called out for a situation, but she didn’t seem to mind.
She’s one of several generational recruits keeping the Apple Butter Festival churning after 42 years. Her dad Tim DeVore has been with it all this time and is president of the Enon Community Historical Society, the event’s sponsoring body.
His family helped start the festival, he met his wife there, and said it’s become a regular family affair, spawning a fourth generation. He proudly pointed out the vendors who come from Enon and Wholly Smokes BBQ, which uses apple butter ingredients from this event in its products.
“The joke is you have to find your replacement,” Tim DeVore said, laughing but not convincingly that he is ready to be replaced.
He admitted not having the festival for a year meant extra challenges, such as the holes where the fires are lit being complicated to dig as the nearby trees’ roots expanded.
“Things you don’t expect pop up,” Tim DeVore said. He credited the Greenon Local School District in stepping up to help make the festival happen with support from the school’s art and music departments to the kitchen staff, who were key in securing more apple sauce.
Although there wasn’t an official festival in 2020, the tradition continued by creating the apple butter and donating it to nonprofits. Kourtney Wise was there and can’t forget the unbearable heat, made easier by also being part of the tradition.
She smiled and recalled pushing her baby dolls in strollers with her sister as kids to the festival.
“It’s a tradition,” she said, with dad Bob Wise also stirring just a few yards over.
Tim DeVore said monies raised will result in scholarships and other ways to give back to the community.
HOW TO GO
What: Apple Butter Festival
Where: 120 S. Xenia Dr., Enon
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 10
More info: www.enonhistoricalsociety.com/apple-butter-festival/