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Unionport Apple Stirrin’ is no more

UNIONPORT — For those who have traveled on county Route 39 the second weekend in October each year to take in the events of the Unionport Apple Stirrin’, there will be one less autumn event to visit.

The long-standing committee that helped to form the festival and has kept it going for the past 40 years has decided it was time to end the festival.

“We said we would go for 40 years and we did but the weather did not agree with us last year and we barely made enough to donate our yearly scholarships to seniors at Indian Creek High School,” explained Bonnie Ault, one of the original members of the group that organized the event. “With bad weather both days, it did not bring out the crowd that we usually had. If we could have had one day of bad weather and the next day good, we could have made out. It did not happen this time.”

“Five people from the Unionport Grange came together with the idea to hold the event in 1978, and it just grew and grew each year. The five starters are still here, but we couldn’t handle it as well as in years past. They are Hawkey Newburn, who offered his spacious property and the buildings on it each year; Mary Catherine Mull, with the apple pie baking contest; Barbara Merriman; Peg Buchanan and myself,” Ault said.

“We enjoyed it, although it was lots of work, lots of fun and a chance to see people from other places we hadn’t seen for ages,” Newburn said. “But the buildings on the property need work that we are unable to do.”

The increasing age of some volunteers and the deaths of others played a role in the decision.

For those not familiar with the group, some of their excellent apple butter was made ahead of time, part of an all-day stirring project that lasted until the apples were cooked to a precise thickness and jarred. Then they put the large kettles back on the fire the two days of the festival and stirred and answered questions of those who came along to watch. It was mentioned that the wooden oar-shaped stirring device reminded them of rowing a boat.

At one time, old-fashioned cider was made during even years.

There was a long lineup of entertainment, including Girl Scouts, groups of local children, local singing talent and senior citizen dancers. A pancake house offered huge pancakes and sausage patties each day of the event, a chicken barbeque was popular and many youth activities had stands that helped them make money for their organizations. There also was the gingerbread cabin, an actual cabin where there were stoves and cookies that could be baked on the spot.

Those are now just pleasant memories for those who worked to make it possible and for those who came to wander the grounds, see the sights and taste the food, organizers explained.

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