Organizers of the West Virginia Applefest at Wellsburg say its longevity can be attributed to the variety of food, entertainment and attractions it offers.
In its 37th year, the festival will return to Charles Street and the Wellsburg Town Square on Oct. 3-5. Visitors will find numerous food and craft booths along Charles Street and an assortment of local talent on the town square, noted Michael O'Brien, who has co-chaired the event with Ernie Jack for many years with the assistance of associate chair Rita Ramsey.
The square has been the stage for a variety of entertainers, including country singers, rock bands, barbershop quartets, jazz ensembles, cloggers, dance schools and magicians.
Apples of assorted varieties are served in various ways, from apple butter made at the scene to thousands of apple pies sold by the Wellsburg Kiwanis Club to hot or cold apple cider sold at the information booth on the town square.
Over the years, the festival has included pony rides; a pumpkin-decorating contest and pumpkin-carving contest, using safety knives, for children; the Applefest Pageant; and apple bake-off, a contest involving pies and other treats.
The festival was inspired by the city's connection to the Grimes Golden variety of apple, which was discovered on W.Va. 27 by Thomas Grimes, a farmer and public official, in 1802. According to legend, the tree was planted by Johnny "Appleseed" Chapman, a missionary who planted apple trees in many areas of the midwest in the late 1700s. The Applefest Committee also has been working to restore the Grimes Golden Roadside Park, located off W.Va. 27 near Grimes' former farm.
The park is part of the Historic Wellsburg-Bethany Scenic Byway, which extends from Brooke Hills Park into Wellsburg's historic district and to Bethany and back.