Festivities add color to Washington County foliage tour

Photo by Doug Loyer The kids barrel ride was popular at the Little Muskingum Watershed Festival.

DART, Ohio — The 29th annual Little Muskingum Watershed Fall Foliage Tour was held Saturday and Sunday with 16 stops along the winding Ohio 26 north of Marietta.

Stops included the Hidden Hills Orchard, several local churches, R.S.V. Art & Frames, Wonder of Wood Cabinet Shop, the historic Hune-Heldman House, a log cabin and several covered bridges including the Hills, Hune, Rinard and Knowlton bridges.

The autumn drive to the eastern corner of Washington County goes past a Mail Pouch barn, farmland, forested hillsides, vintage oil wells and parts of Wayne National Forest. The Little Muskingum Watershed Fall Foliage Tour creates several photo opportunities for those enjoying the drive.

The main stop on the tour was the Little Muskingum Watershed Festival that featured antique engines, tractors, games, hay rides, raffles, a petting zoo, a turtle race, crafts, apple butter making, live entertainment and food.

“We had a good turnout for the steam engines, tractor pull and tractor parade,” said festival organizer Karen Eddy of Wingett Run. “They all had a good time.

Photo by Doug Loyer Festival organizer Karen Eddy stirs apple butter at the Little Muskingum Watershed Festival.

“The festival is a good time to relax and it brings the community together,” she said. “Each year we get new people.”

Eddy said people enjoy the changing of the colors although this year the timing didn’t work out.

“Autumn itself is a nice break after a hot summer and we’re not quite ready for winter yet. It gives everyone a breathe of fresh air and chance to be rejuvenated, not to mention it’s fun and a chance to catch up with friends and eat enjoy some great food,” she said.

“This is an old family recipe,” added Eddy as she was taking her turn at stirring the apple butter which was being sold at the festival. “I married into a family that made it and we’re carrying on the tradition.”

She explained that it normally takes about six hours to make the apple butter. One of the things about the festival is that it helps to keep some traditions alive.

Photo by Doug Loyer Susan Rinard liked the Gold Rush apples from Hidden Hills Orchard on Ohio 26.

Eddy said they’ve been a part of the Little Muskingum Watershed Association since 1994. It was started in the late 1980s to promote tourism and showcase the eastern corner of Washington County that’s known for the oil and gas industry, steam engines, covered bridges and natural beauty.

Another popular stop on the tour was the Hidden Hills Orchard.

“We’re busy today, which is great,” said Tom Burch, who owns the orchard with his wife Cathy. “It’s a surprise given the cool weather and it’s cloudy and overcast. We have cider now so it’s bringing people in.”

They offer several varieties of apples, cider and many apple products. Through October, they are open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and noon-5 p.m. on Sundays.

Joyce Arnold, of Lowell, and her daughter stopped by to pick up their cider and apples Saturday. They said that they stop by every year for cider and to pick apples.

Photo by Doug Loyer The Hune Covered Bridge originally built in 1879 is always a photo opportunity on Ohio 26.

Susan Rinard, of Marietta, also visits the Hidden Hills Orchard annually.

“I like getting the Gold Rush apples,” admitted Rinard. “They’re a mixture between Golden Delicious and Winesap.”

Rich Lemal, of Beverly, enjoyed attending the Antique Engine/Equipment Show for the first time with his daughter Leah Schaad and her son Levi, 6, both of Marietta.

“I think this is neat and the kids have fun,” said Lemal. “It gets the kids away from video games.”

“This is something new for Levi,” said Schaad. “It’s a little different.”

Photo by Doug Loyer Pickin’ on Country entertains the crowd at the Little Muskingum Watershed Festival.

Before enjoying some chicken, noodles and mashed potatoes at the festival, they said they got to stop by Biehl’s Store for a visit and saw some covered bridges.

Inez Clarida, of Williamstown, enjoyed moving to the music of her favorite band, Pickin’ on Country.

“I love to dance,” said Clarida. “I’ve given up a lot in my life lately with my arthritis, but I will not give up my dancing.”

Clarida said she loves the Little Muskingum Watershed Festival and things from a by-gone era and planned to return on Sunday for the turtle races.

“I think this is great,” said Virginia Eagle, of Leroy, W.Va., as she looked at the many quilts on display at the Hune-Heldman House on the tour. “I can relate to this.”

Eagle has done a lot of quilting in her life and has a fond appreciation for the craft. She actually made each of her seven grandchildren a quilt for Christmas last year.

The historic Hune-Heldman House was originally constructed in 1874 and served the Little Muskingum Settlement as a wayside and post office.