GRAND RAPIDS, Ohio — What started as a simple, homemade recipe to use up leftover apples has become a regional favorite treat in the fall. All things applebutter will be celebrated Sunday at the annual Grand Rapids Applebutter Fest.
The small village's population is expected to rise from 1,000 to about 40,000 for the 45th year of the festival
Along with the namesake fruit spread, visitors will enjoy more than 100 vendors downtown, living history demonstrations and an expanded children's area.
The one-day event is a boon for the locally-owned businesses that operate year-round in the village.
"Just the exposure of bringing people here, letting them see the businesses, letting them see the natural beauty, letting them see the area makes them want to come back," Steve Kryder, the president of the Historical Society of Grand Rapids, said.
The Applebutter Fest began in 1977 as the primary fundraiser for the Historical Society of Grand Rapids. Proceeds from the event go toward community improvements and historical programming.
"There's no entry fee for any of the events we put on here," Chuck Thomas, the Applebutter Fest co-chair, said. "Just the parking cost, which is $15. Which for a family of four is pretty cheap per head, and there's no $5 charge for this or $5 charge for that."
Kryder said the land the festival is held on, and Grand Rapids itself, has an important history to it. Hosting the annual festival is a way to preserve some of that history, he said.
And while the organizers will be busy all Sunday morning stirring the fresh applebutter on site, the prep work began with peeling over 60 bushels of apples.
Even today, volunteers were busy helping to grind up the peeled apples into smaller, manageable chunks destined for the copper kettle.
Along with everything else the festival has to offer, organizers said visitors should spend a moment of their Sunday to take in the sights of their historic stretch of the Maumee River.
"You're never going to find a better spot to view the Maumee River than back here," Thomas said. "It's the best view, probably, in Northwest Ohio if not the region."
Roads through Grand Rapids will close Sunday morning at 7 a.m., with full festivities running from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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