Mix of food and fun at Applefest
WELLSBURG — In its 39th year, the Wellsburg Applefest is offering up a variety of food, music and activities along Charles Street and the Wellsburg Town Square.
The festival continues today with the Brenda Casey Dancers at 11 a.m., vocalist Toni Voltz at 1 p.m., the band Easy Street at 2 p.m. and the band Gypsy Graves at 4 p.m.
Organizers also will announce winners of the All Things Apple Contest, for apple pies and assorted other baked goods made with the food as well as apple-related crafts.
Visitors to the annual festival will find apples sold in various ways, from bags of the fruit to jugs of cider, as well as an assortment of other food, from ham and potatoes and roast beef sandwiches to Italian sausage sandwiches and burritos.
Opening the festival Friday were the Wellsburg Middle School band and choir and children in Amanda DiMarzio’s fourth grade class at Wellsburg Primary School who presented a play about Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman.
Not everyone knows the legendary figure was a real-life missionary known for planting apple trees in many areas of the Midwest in the late 1700s. He has been credited for providing the seeds for the Grimes Golden variety of apple found on the Wellsburg farm of Thomas Grimes in 1802.
The apple inspired a roadside park near the former farm on state Route 27 as well as the Applefest itself.
Michael O’Brien, the festival’s co-chairman for 34 years, was known for donning the pot hat and overalls worn by Chapman, for many past festivals.
O’Brien died shortly after last year’s festival. In tribute to him, a photo montage depicting his many years of involvement was shown on the town square. It was created by long-time Applefest volunteer Frank Johnson with help from O’Brien’s cousin, Rita Ramsey, who is co-chairing this year’s event with long-time co-chair Ernie Jack.
With amusement, pony rides, pumpkin carving and decorating contests, the festival’s planning committee has always tried to appeal to families.
This year youth were invited to set up tables on the town square to sell food, used toys and other items.
Among about 90 food, craft and other booths lining Charles Street this weekend are many nonprofit groups raising funds to help the community in various ways.
To support its operations, the Franklin Community Fire Department again is selling fudge and $5 chances on a package of $750 in gift cards for both brick and mortar stores and online retailers.
Fire Chief Jerry Narigon said the drawing will be held Nov. 17 to tie in with Black Friday shopping, and the chances can be purchased from any member of the fire department as well as at the department’s Applefest booth.
Narigon said excellent turnout for the festival each year has made the booth a strong fundraiser for the department.
“Even when the weather has been bad, we’ve sold out on the fudge,” he said.
It’s the first year for volunteers with Bruins Helping Bruins to man a booth, with chances sold for several gift baskets and children’s bicycles provided by local PTAs.
The group maintains a clothes closet and food pantry at Brooke High School for students there who are in need and currently fills backpacks with food for 34 teens each week.
Also on hand is the Wellsburg Kiwanis Club, which again was selling mini apple pies with the help of the Brooke High School Key Club.
Bob Haas, the club’s chairman for the fundraiser, said, “We’ve participated in every Applefest. It wasn’t always apple pies. We used to do our chicken barbecue here.”
The barbecue was later moved to June, and the club has been selling hundreds of pies since, with more than 1,600 ordered for this weekend alone.
Among the Applefest’s many visitors were Bill and Karen Strope of Washington, Pa., who said it was their first year at the event.
“It’s very nicely done. We come here to ride bikes on the Brooke Pioneer Trail all the time. We like it. It’s a nice town,” said Karen.