Belpre hosts Apple Butter Stir-Off this weekend

BELPRE – The 35th annual Apple Butter Stir-Off will take place this weekend in Howe’s Grove Park.

The event, which is always held in October, will include live entertainment, games and inflatables for the kids as well as a small carnival, said event co-chair Willene Bacon.

“We have made a few changes, but will still have crafts, food vendors and the Boy Scouts making apple butter,” she said.

For the second year the event will not have an admission fee into the park, located on Washington Boulevard next to the Belpre Senior Center.

“Last year we decided to make it free to bring more people in and it worked,” Bacon said. “So, we decided to do it again this year.”

In an effort to off-set the loss of funds from entrance fees, Bacon said the Belpre Lions Club, which has organized the festival each year since 1979, will sell raffle tickets. The tickets will cost $5 each and enter purchasers in a chance to win gift cards for $100 in gasoline, $200 in groceries from Kroger and $300 in cash.

The Belpre Lions Club began the festival as a way to raise money for the organization to help purchase eyeglasses and hearing aids for community members. All proceeds from the event go to these causes.

The festival will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Both days volunteers from Pioneer Presbyterian Church and Boy Scout Troop 91 will stir large cast iron pots of apple butter over open fires.

The roughly 85 bushels of apples for each year’s festival come from R.E. Holdren apple orchard in Little Hocking and Bob’s Market.

The two groups cored and cut the apples and made apple sauce, which will become apple butter before and during the festival.

The apple butter has been made each year by the two groups for about 20 years. Members of the church and Scouts will show festival attendees how to stir the condiment in copper kettles over open fires during the event. It took two weeks of evening work for the apple butter to go from fresh, whole apples to the finished product.

The Scouts’ earnings go to the individual boys’ accounts to be used for summer camp and other special projects. The church uses the proceeds for general projects. In the past, the troop has made about 220 gallons of apple butter with members of the church.

The Little Miss Apple of Your Eye contest has been moved to Sunday this year due to a scheduling conflict with the pageant organizer, Bacon said.