GRAND RAPIDS, Ohio – Visitors to the 41st annual Applebutter Fest Oct. 8 will be treated to lots of shopping, demonstrations, food, crafts, children’s activities and music in a historical setting along the Maumee River.
In its 41st year, the festival annually draws tens of thousands of people to downtown Grand Rapids. Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
The Historical Society of Grand Rapids sponsors the event, which stretches through town from the community park through downtown.
It originally started as a way to demonstrate Maumee River Valley pioneer crafts and skills. Today, the fest has grown to include historical reenactments along the river, live music on several stages, children’s entertainment with jugglers and magicians, classic cars, a World War II encampment, antique farm equipment and farm life demonstrations, handmade juried crafts and collectibles, and of course, apple butter made on site.
To kick off the event on Saturday evening before official start Sunday morning, Abraham Lincoln portrayed by John Cooper of Baltimore, Ohio, is to be featured in a Civil War-era church service that culminates in cannon fire. The services takes place at 7:15 p.m. at the Wright Pavilion on the towpath between Old Gilead Side Cut Canal and the river. Bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating. Participants can visit with Lincoln prior to the service.
Festival organizers are volunteers and the proceeds are returned to the Grand Rapids community. Many local nonprofit organizations are supported by or have the opportunity to generate funding during the festival including youth softball and baseball programs, Grand Rapids Volunteer Fire Department, Otsego High School FFA, a local book and media club and Boy Scout troops.
The historical society supports local programs such as the Rhythm on the River live music series, educational programs at Otsego schools and a summer musical at the town hall. In addition, the society publishes history books about the Grand Rapids area.
Admission is free, but a $15 per vehicle parking fee provides operating funds to keep the festival going every second Sunday in October. Free shuttles provide transportation from parking areas to downtown.