VAN WERT — Van Wert has some of the best fruit growers around, and this weekend people will know it when they celebrate the fruit of the season, the apple, at the 26th annual Apple Festival.
“This year, we have three buildings at the fairgrounds packed full of arts and crafts, and then we have lots of stuff going on outdoors too,” said Ruth Lape, a member of the Van Wert County Fruit Growers Association, which hosts the event. “It started because we have five orchards in the area, filled with apples and pumpkins and all kinds of good produce. Originally, we wanted people to know about us, and it’s kind of mushroomed since that first year,” Lape said.
Indeed, this year’s event includes a craft show, wagon rides, pony rides, a model train display, a kid’s art show, entertainment, and a fun run.
There will also be maple syrup cooking, and fresh caramel corn being made. “That’s in a kettle over a fire and we have to watch it closely to keep the fire even so nothing burns,” Lape said.
The same can be said of the apple butter making, which is cooked in a copper kettle over the fire. Both the popcorn and the apple butter will be for sale.
As will the apples.
“Fresh from the orchard apples. Those have the best flavor because we can let them hang on longer and not pick them for shipping. That gives some of that good, sharp flavor. And we have any kind of apple you want to mention. If I don’t have it at my booth, I’ll point you to someone who does,” Lape promised.
And while an apple a day keeps the doctor away, flu shots will also be available from 4 to 6 p.m. today in the administration building for added health benefits.