Belpre apple butter festival stirs residents for 41st year
BELPRE — For many, it is the apple butter that keeps bringing them back to Belpre year after year.
The 41st annual Apple Butter Stir Off was held throughout the weekend at Civitan Park in Belpre with organizers estimating over 800 people attending.
The festival, which is put on by the Belpre Lions Club, featured a number of vendors, food, inflatables, entertainment, contests, children’s activities and apple butter stirring.
Although rain early Saturday got the event off to a slow start, the skies eventually cleared and people made their way out to the park on both days.
“Considering we had a slow start (with the rain Saturday) the weather has ended up being beautiful and we have been doing really well,” said Becky Boggs, Treasurer for the Belpre Lions Club. “We appreciate everyone who came out this weekend.”
For many, the appeal of the event remains “good old-fashioned apple butter making” and for the community to gather together, Boggs said.
“People are running into old friends they haven’t seen in awhile or checking out the food vendors they might want to have,” she said. “People also get to learn about the Lions Club.”
The coming year will be the 100th anniversary of Lions Club in Ohio with a number of events going on statewide and locally during 2020.
Once again, Pioneer Presbyterian Church of Belpre had two large vats of apple butter cooking throughout the weekend at the festival.
“It was a little wet and cold (Saturday morning) and in the afternoon it cleared up and the butter sold well,” said Tom Webster of the church who was stirring apple butter throughout the weekend. “(Sunday) was just a beautiful fall day.”
The church made 190 gallons before the weekend and made 90 gallons during the stir off.
“We would love to sell it all,” Webster said. “Last year, we did sell out.
“They were standing in line to get it (Sunday).”
If it doesn’t sell out, the church sells it throughout the year for anyone who wants apple butter. Webster, a local attorney, sells it out of his office.
The Belpre Touchdown Club, Boy Scout Troop 13 and Belpre High School Performing Arts Boosters all helped make apple butter over the last two weekends leading up to the stir off.
Apple butter is something many people grew up on.
“A lot of people have relatives who made apple butter in the past, grandmothers and grandfathers and it was a family tradition,” Webster said. “They want homemade apple butter.
“On these cold mornings, they like it on their biscuits or English muffins or toast.”
Fall is the traditional time for apple butter as it is the time farmers’ apples would ripen and it was something where people would gather together before the Thanksgiving holiday.
“It was a way for country families to get together,” Webster said.
Kayla Klinglesmith, of Cutler, brought her family out to see the people making the apple butter.
“We enjoy seeing how it is made and we had to buy some,” she said. “We come every year.”
They enjoy the stir off because it is family oriented and very friendly. The main reason they come is to get the apple butter.
“It is delicious, “ Klinglesmith said.
It was the apple butter that brought Becky McVey, of Williamstown, to the festival Sunday.
Being a “Stir Off” she was expecting other groups to be making apple butter in a competition setting.
“That is what brought me, I thought there would be more of them,” she said. “We had a good time. We got some caramel corn and apple butter to take home.”
McVey got what she came for and still had a good time.
Mitch Greathouse, of Belpre, has lived in the area all his life and tries to regularly hit all of the events. He likes getting the apple butter too.
“It is the one time of the year that you get to come out and enjoy something that is made by the community in the community,” he said. “It is just a good atmosphere down here.”
Money raised from the event will support programs the Lions Club has going on in the community, including its eye exam and glasses programs for people who need assistance. Money also goes towards pediatric cancer research, scholarships for local students at Belpre High School, items to send active military overseas and more.
“There are a lot of things we do to give back to the community to help wherever we can,” Boggs said. “Whatever we can do for the community is what we try to do.
“As we get our name out there, more and more people are being generous. They support us a lot. We all come together to do what we can and serve this community.”
Contact Brett Dunlap at firstname.lastname@example.org