High above the Village of Enon the water tower has been painted with a big red apple. What a perfect way to mark the 40th Anniversary of the Apple Butter Festival on Oct. 12 and 13.
It all started 40 years ago next to the Enon Adena mound. The Enon Community Historical Society (ECHS) needed a fund raiser and there was an apple tree full of apples on the mound in the center of town.
No one knows how that apple tree got there. According to town records, the Native Americans used to pull any saplings that started to grow on the ancient earthen structure. When the Shawnee left this area, apple trees began to grow on the mound.
People like to imagine who planted that first apple tree. Was it Johnny Appleseed? Did a frontiersman leave an apple core on the mound during his explorations? Or were the apple trees an intentional planting by the earliest settlers?
We do know that the apple trees were already there in 1834 when Joseph Smith and his followers traveled down the Dayton Springfield Road when this area was newly settled. He recorded his observations in his diary.
“The mound was covered with apple trees, and surrounded with oat fields, the ground being level for some distance around,” wrote Smith.
It only seemed right that those unique apple trees became the basis for a festival that would celebrate Enon.
At the first Apple Butter Festival the apple butter was stirred in a big copper kettle near the mound. For 21 years the festival would be held there, until expansion of the village offices and library took up the space used for the booths.
Now the festival is held around Enon Primary School and around the Gazebo in Settlers Park. It’s a perfect location that allowed for additional booths with many of them on paved parking lots and streets.
According to Ann Armstrong-Ingoldsby, tradition is important at the Apple Butter Festival. There are now six huge 50-gallon copper kettles that set over top open wood fires. These are stirred by community members, volunteers, and officials in the area all day long. Standing around the kettles is a great way to catch up on local news, and meet county-wide officials and people running for office.
And if you ask nicely, you just might get a chance to stir apple butter for a bit. Be sure to take a photo if you do.
I’ve been told that the first apple butter kettle is started at “zero dark thirty” or some seriously early hour when it is still dark and the birds are still asleep. I wouldn’t know this because this night owl is not near the place then. Luckily Enon has lots of early bird volunteers to get this done.
Starting at midday the kettles of apple butter are finished up one at a time. The thick hot brown “butter” is scooped from the kettles and transported to the canning tent. Thousands of jars of apple butter are immediately sealed in glass jars and sold to the public.
This is a “hot” item to purchase at the festival for more than one reason. I’ve even used freshly canned apple butter as a hand warmer in years past.
Apple butter is an important item for Enon hospitality and essential at Thanksgiving tables. The freshly canned jars are fantastic hostess gifts and perfect in local gift baskets.
For decades favorite food booths have included Bean Soup and corn bread run by the Enon United Methodist Church, and Homemade Fruit and Pecan Pies by the Knob Prairie United Church of Christ. The Homemade Chicken and Noodles and Homemade Apple Fritters have both been served at the Fair at New Boston. Cootie corn is made as it always has been. Homemade is obviously the key word here. These foods are worthy of grandma’s table.
Pork Chops, Walking Tacos, BBQ, baked goods, and other more modern choices have been welcomed onto the festival menu and are favorites also. Many folks take plastic bags or containers to take supper home. I know I do.
Apple Butter Festival is not all about eating. Really it isn’t. There are nearly 100 craft booths full of treasures. These booths are carefully juried or judged, to have quality handcrafted merchandise for sale and to not too closely duplicate other booths which include original art work, books, and plants. For many folks this is the kick off for the Christmas shopping season.
This festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, rain or shine. It is easy to find this festival. Just follow the red apples painted on the streets of Enon by Jessi DeVore and her crew. Parking is free, nearby and plentiful.
Apple Butter festival is the main fundraiser for the ECHS and many of the food and craft booths are also fundraisers for local groups. In many ways the Enon Apple Butter Festival reminds us of our past, but helps to keep good things going in the Enon/Mad River Township community. Community support makes that happen.
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