ENON – As the trees shroud themselves in a burst of autumn colors, and the crisp air of fall lures many people outdoors, thousands will be gathering this weekend in the Village of Enon for the biggest community event of the year.
The Enon Community Historical Society (ECHS) will be sponsoring its 37th Annual Enon Apple Butter Festival (ABF) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10 and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11. The two-day event will be held along South Xenia Street and on the grounds of Enon Primary School, located at 120 E. Xenia St. Admission and parking are free to the public, and handicap parking is also available. No pets, bicycles or firearms are allowed.
“The Enon Apple Butter Festival is the Enon Community Historical Society’s foremost community service project, and the festival is always held rain, shine or snow,” said Ann Ingoldsby, spokesperson for the ECHS. “Many non-profit community organizations, school groups and churches also participate in the event, and over the years, ABF has become the biggest fundraiser for the historical society and the community groups.”
According to Ingoldsby, the local historical society was formed by a group of citizens who worked on a number of civic activities commemorating the Bicentennial of the United States in 1976, and they decided that the community needed to establish a historical society.
“Under the leadership of Robert Fowble, the Enon Community Historical Society was formed in 1977, and within the next year, we held the first Enon Apple Butter Festival as a fundraiser for the historical society, and also for local non-profit organizations,” Ingoldsby said.
Ingoldsby pointed out that the inspiration for the festival was an apple tree growing on top of the Adena Mound on Indian Drive next to the ECHS headquarters, which was then a branch location of the Clark County Library.
“The first festival was held on the Village Green next door to Enon Village Hall. The ABF committee gathered apples to cut up, smash, and cook over a few fire-fueled kettles. As it expanded over the years, the ECHS moved the ABF to downtown Enon on the grounds of the school,” Ingoldsby said.
Ever since, people have flocked to Enon the second weekend in October each year to buy the local historical society’s renowned apple butter, visit local arts and craft vendors, participate in children activities and enjoy popular culinary delights. ECHS officials are estimating that attendance this year will range from 8,000 to 10,000 for the two-day event.
The 2015 ABF will kick off with an opening ceremony at 10 a.m. on Saturday in front of Enon Primary School which will include musical entertainment provided by Greenon High School Band and Choir. Following the ceremony, festival goers can shop the various arts and crafts vendors for unique hand-crafted items and gifts and select from a large variety of tasty foods for sale, including funnel cakes, bean soup, pork chops, apple fritters, caramel apples, walking tacos, homemade noodles, barbeque sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers, peanuts in shells, popcorn, shaved ice, cootie corn and more.
“Over 37 year, the ABF has experienced some changes, but the primary guidelines are the same: Every arts and crafts vendor is juried, and all must have handmade items. Every food vendor is juried to make sure there is not duplication of foods,” Ingoldsby said.
Those in attendance will have a close-up view of apple butter being made fresh each day the old-fashion way in six 50-gallon copper kettles over open fires. Ingoldsby noted that the historical society will produce more than 3,300 pints of apple butter during the two-day event.
“Both days, volunteers get up and start the fires before 5 a.m. Later, they place the apple sauce in the kettles to simmer for a while, and I think that’s when the special ingredients are added,” Ingoldsby said. “The ingredients are a secret, of course, but the apple butter is basically made with applesauce, cider, sugar, ground cinnamon, ground all spice, ground cloves and ground nutmeg.”
The apple butter must be stirred continuously for eight hours. Community members, including village and township officials, stir the apple butter with long-handle wooden paddles, in 30-minute shifts, until the last kettle is done in the middle of the afternoon. As the apple butter simmers, the air becomes thick with the aroma of cinnamon and spices. Then, the apple butter is canned and sold at the festival in the afternoon.
“All the kettles must be stirred continually from the beginning to the end, and that takes a lot of volunteers and hours of work,” Ingoldsby said. “Nonetheless, homemade apple butter, made the old fashioned way, seems to be the best.”
She added that the ABF committee has studied how the open-kettle cooking process is properly achieved and continuously follows Clark County health department food service guidelines.
“Not only is the ABF a fundraiser that supports the work of the ECHS, but it also focuses on our history and the way our ancestors made this yummy treat,” Ingoldsby said. “One thing for sure, the ABF has that hometown, family atmosphere and is a lot of fun.”
Linda Collins is a freelance writer for Greene County News.