“The historical society in Kimmswick needed to do a fundraiser so they started making a little bit of apple butter,” Connie Schmitt, Kimmswick Apple Butter Festival Director, said.
Forty two years later the festival has grown to featuring more than 600 booths selling a variety of crafts and foods to the over 120,000 people that visit the festival each year.
“The city took it over about 40 years ago and so now the city runs it but the historical society still does the apple butter and sells it and that’s one of their major fundraisers for the year,” Schmitt said.
“We saved our apple butter money twenty years to get enough to build a museum,” Nadine Garland, apple butter maker, said. Nadine has been volunteering at the apple butter booth for 38 of the 42-year history of the festival.
Apple butter making is no simple task. Jars have to be washed, 20 bushels of apples have to be peeled, and wood has to be cut. At 4:30 on Saturday morning the fire is started and the apple butter making begins. “We have to check it with my magic plate. We have a magic plate that we’ve used the whole time,” Garland said. “You look at the amount of moisture still in it and when the moisture is cooked out of it, in about 10 hours, then we put it in jars.”
After the 10 hours is up they pull a table up to the kettle and have an assembly line style jarring system. Someone dips and it passes down the line to a lid and a ring and everything gets tightened up. “The apple butter lid person, we give them a lot of trouble,” Garland jokes. Once the jars have had a chance to cool they sell them to the festival goers. This process is done on both Saturday and Sunday. Festival goers are invited to come by and ask questions and even stir the pot.
The Kimmswick Apple Butter Festival takes place the last weekend in October each year. It is open Saturday and Sunday 10 am till 5 pm. For more information visit www.visitkimmswick.com/apple_butter_festival.