Sam Kriebel, at left, watches as Robert Wood and Mike Hart operate his fodder cutter as part of a display on vintage farm machinery.
Brisk fall days and the apple harvest are mainstays in our region of Pennsylvania and what better way to celebrate both than with the Apple Butter Frolic festival in Harleysville.
This year’s 38th edition of the Apple Butter Frolic was held last Saturday at the Mennonite Heritage Center, 565 Yoder Road in Harleysville, just a short distance from the Franconia Mennonite Conference farm on Indian Creek Road where the festival was held for its first 37 years.
The 2011 event was held under partly cloudy skies with just a hint of an autumn breeze flowing through the crowd.
Visitors entering the grounds were greeted with the gentle put-put of two-cycle engines mounted in antique John Deere and other vintage tractors. Once past the soothing rhythmic sounds, you entered a large tent full of craftsmen and women engaging in centuries-old trades that included tinsmiths, wheelwrights, fracture art, leather working, redware pottery and a host of other skills on display. There were booksellers, butter making and more.
Children riding horses and people enjoying horse-drawn wagon rides added to the farm-like atmosphere as visitors meandered around the farm animals and equipment. Farming demonstrations reminded one of the hard work many of our ancestors endured before the days of mechanized farm equipment.
Near the entrance to the Mennonite Heritage Center museum, two hit-and-miss engines turned the paddles that whipped up a pair of homemade ice cream makers. As you entered the museum, the soft melodic sounds of a parlor organ caught the ear and made you pause to enjoy the music. Inside the museum was a treasure of local programs and exhibits.
At the far end of the grounds, sheepherding dogs put on a show to the delight of all who stopped to catch a glimpse of the skill and obedience of the patient Border Collies as they gathered sheep into pens.
And there were apples; plenty of apples and apple-related delicacies being created before your very eyes. There was apple butter and applesauce – wonderful to enjoy right then and there or to purchase and enjoy at home. Anything you wanted to learn about apples was on display for all inquiring minds to absorb. There was an apple press squeezing out delicious cider and candy apples for those with a hankering for the sweet and crunchy. Yummy apple cheese snacks, apple fritters and apple dumplings displayed the flexibility of the versatile fruit. There was apple pie and even an apple baking contest.
There was much to see and enjoy including sausage and scrapple making. But, it was plain to see that many visitors were intent on a visit to the “large food tent” to enjoy the tastes of the day. Among the goodies to be had were homemade chicken pot pies and string beans and ham. There was pig-roast barbeque and hot dogs and sausage sandwiches.
For the Pennsylfawnish-Dietsche, or those with the tastes of one, there was shoo-fly pie, funny cakes and ground cherry pies along with many more varieties of fruit-filled pastries. There was even home-made scrapple, served on a slice of bread with warm apple butter.
If you didn’t get a chance to attend the 38th annual event, make sure you make plans to attend the 39th next year.
And bring your appetite.