Eden UMC Apple Butter Festival Is A Sweet Time For All Ages
Hot Springs, Va – A very special delicacy is available in western Virginia — just once a year — country-style apple butter, made the old-fashioned way by members of Eden United Methodist Church (UMC) in Hot Springs. For more than 50 years, the church has made apple butter on the third Saturday in October and held a festival to celebrate country cooking, crafts and the change of seasons.
Eden Church will hold this year’s festival on October 15, starting in the early morning and lasting all day. The church is south of Hot Springs, off Route 687 on Switzerland Trail. In previous years, demand for the apple butter was so high that orders had to be placed in advance. Event organizer Claudia McAllister says this year will be different.
“This year we’re pretty excited about having apple butter ready that people can purchase it on the day of apple butter,” she says. “Before, we’ve tried making it on that day and then they had to pick it up later, but we will have apple butter for sale on Saturday.”
McAllister says a variety of handmade items and homemade foods will be available.
“We have a holiday and gift shop and there’s really some pretty things there and some unique things,” she says. “There’s also a baked and goodies table, where we’re hoping to have lots of yummy things to sell to eat. We’re real excited about having games and fun for children of all ages.”
Visitors will enjoy a variety of musical entertainment, including talented local artists.
“We will have music and entertainment all day and several groups that you have – people you have seen around – including our Edenaires, she says. “We’re getting real excited about it.”
But the apple butter is the most popular attraction. McAllister says demand for the country delicacy hasn’t caused the church to switch to more modern production methods.
“We do it the old-fashioned way,” she says. “It’s made outdoors, hand-stirred over a wood fire in big copper kettles – 50 gallon copper kettles, as a matter of fact,” she said.
The organizer says the annual festival draws people from across the country.
“We have people who have been coming for years and come from a long ways to come and meet their family and their friends and make new friends and come and see the old ones,” says McAllister. “It’s just a good week to be together. We couldn’t make it it wasn’t for people who come in from other places and their families. The community just joins right in with us.”
A visitor from Texas videotaped the event several years ago and sent a copy to the church.
“He was from Texas and he could not believe that people did such a thing,” she says. “He made our first video and sent it back to us from Texas and, some of the shots he thought were unique, we got a real laugh out of. They were real funny.”
A country-style lunch will be offered at 11 a.m.
“We will have hamburgers and hot dogs and french fries,” she says. “We’ll have chicken nuggets or tenders. We’ll have plates. We’ll have vegetable soup and chili and brown beans and cornbread. You might think you’re having a country-style picnic dinner.
McAllister says Eden church welcomes visitors with open arms – and might put them to work.
“We invite anybody to come and be a part of it,” she says. “If you would like to even get in and maybe taking a turn stirring it a couple time,” she said. “We say three times around and twice through the middle – that’s the way you stir the apple butter kettle. There’s a rhythm to it and people get in and have fun and you can be a part of it. You can be a part of everything that’s there.”
For more information on the apple butter festival, call Claudia McAllister after 2 pm at 540-839-224.