GRAND RAPIDS, Ohio — The annual Applebutter Fest is back on this year and local businesses like Wild Side are ready for the huge crowds on Oct. 10.
Bar manager Sara Kirk said they're already planning to have three bars open and several new beers on tap.
"It's gonna be great. It's a party," Kirk exclaimed.
Up and down downtown Grand Rapids, businesses are gearing up for the festival just like the volunteers. The fest has been going on for 40 years, according to its website, bringing tens of thousands of people to the small village.
Although COVID-19 shut down many large-scale events, event co-chair Chuck Thomas said the fest is back, but don't expect grand changes.
"No, because it's already special," Thomas explained.
On a rainy Wednesday, several community members filled up to the old fire house to tackle peeling 35 bushels of apples. Thomas explained that these peeled apples will be made into apple butter on Saturday. Then, another 35 apple bushels will be peeled on the Saturday before the fest for fresh apple butter on Oct 10.
Additionally, 25 bushels will be placed in the town hall for an apple cider press demonstration on during the fest.
Chester 'Chet' Vollmar sat at a hand-crank apple peeler and tackled a bushel by himself. He's been a fest volunteer for the last 40 years, and his reason for why is simple.
"I sort of enjoy doing it. You know, you meet and get to talk to people. Things like that," Vollmar said.
The apple peeling, according to Thomas, is one of the best fest prep events.
"You keep being busy and talking. The work just kind of gets done. You know, it's not like it's a chore that's got to get done, that you're looking at and you have to work at. It just is a nice community event," Thomas said.
Kirk said the brewery along with many businesses in downtown have been prepping for the thousands of visitors because this fest is one of a kind.
"In Northwest Ohio we don't have as many events like this that's really unique and special," Kirk noted.
Thomas added that visitors will be encouraged to be pandemic safe. Thus handwashing stations and sanitizing stations will be available, and the Wood County Health Department will be on site offering vaccines. Masks are welcomed but not mandatory.
Thomas said it's all about safety.
"We think we're about as ready as we can be," Thomas said.
Visit the Applebutter Fest website for more details.