Welles­ley Ap­ple But­ter & Cheese runs for the 42nd time this Satur­day

The Woolwich Observer - - NEWS - FAISAL ALI

THE WEATHER MAY NOT be as sum­mery as last week­end, but Satur­day should see Welles­ley vil­lage chock-a-block with vis­i­tors for the Ap­ple But­ter and Cheese Fes­ti­val.

The an­nual event, the sig­na­ture fes­ti­val of the year for Welles­ley and one of the big­gest in the town­ships, goes for the 42nd year.

The mouth-wa­ter­ing morsels on of­fer are rea­son enough to at­tend the fes­ti­val, which typ­i­cally draws in any­where from 30,000 to 40,000 peo­ple, says or­ga­nizer Bob Reid, es­sen­tially boost­ing the pop­u­la­tion by a fac­tor of 10. Ap­ple but­ter and cheese are only the begin­nings of what’s on the menu for the day, which will be start­ing early at 7 a.m. with a pan­cake break­fast, and run the gamut from ap­ple sauce and frit­ters to ket­tle corn and the smor­gas­bord roast beef.

“We’ve added a lot of out­door eat­ing as well be­cause the younger peo­ple … with their kids, they’re not re­ally want­ing to go and sit down for a fairly big meal,” says Reid, who has been the chair of the fes­ti­val’s plan­ning com­mit­tee for about 15 years.

Be­sides the food­stuffs, which get full billing in the fes­ti­val’s name, are the equally com­pelling events and ac­tiv­i­ties. There’s clog danc­ing off and on through­out the day, pony rides, in­flat­a­bles, a bouncy cas­tle, var­i­ous rides and a pup­pet show for the youth.

The com­pet­i­tive horse­shoe tour­na­ment will open to spec­ta­tors, as will the fi­nals of the Welle­sely Idol, which will see the last three con­tes­tants – Anas­ta­sia Bilodeau, Chris­tian Econo­mides and Tay­lor Kelly – com­pete for the cov­eted ti­tle. For tourists and lo­cals alike, there are nu­mer­ous ven­dors ar­ti­sans sell­ing their crafts to the wider pub­lic.

“There’s no charge to go into the arena where ... we have ven­dors in there sell­ing their prod­ucts. Ev­ery­thing from cheeses to meats to home­made gad­gets, I would think some jew­elry. A good va­ri­ety of ven­dors are in there – in and around the arena as well, there’s ven­dors out­side the arena as well.”

Most of the events are be­ing kept free, notes Reid, in­clud­ing the tours of the cider mill and farms, the an­tique car and trac­tor dis­plays and pa­rade, the model boat re­gatta and mu­sic per­for­mances, in an ef­fort to keep the event as ac­ces­si­ble as pos­si­ble.

“It’s what we feel is a real fam­ily event where it’s not go­ing to cost you an arm and a leg to go [to most of] the events that are go­ing on,” says Reid. “If you don’t come with a lot of money, all you got to do is eat and en­joy the sights.”

Be­sides mu­si­cal num­bers from the Idol com­peti­tors, there will be per­for­mances through­out the day from a va­ri­ety of mu­si­cians.

The fes­ti­val has been a ma­jor draw for the town over the decades even as tastes change over gen­er­a­tions. Reid notes that the

horse­shoe tour­na­ment, for ex­am­ple, isn’t as big as it used to be, as in­ter­est has de­clined amongst the youth. The tra­di­tional quilt auction has also like­wise been can­celled. Yet Reid is not rush­ing to mod­ern­ize the fes­ti­val sig­nif­i­cantly as it con­tin­ues to run suc­cess­fully.

Even with­out en­trance fees and the like, the Ap­ple But­ter and Cheese Fes­ti­val is still a sig­nif­i­cant fundraiser for the town, which raises money by charg­ing par­tic­i­pat­ing ven­dors a fee. Reid an­tic­i­pates that they will likely gen­er­ate some­where be­tween $20,000$30,000 over the day.

“All that money goes back into the fes­ti­val’s cof­fers and then we dis­trib­ute the money to wher­ever we feel meets our man­date,” he says.

“We’ve do­nated money to­wards both the splash parks the Lions put in and also the abil­ity play­ground that the Lions put in. We’ve added money to­wards beau­ti­fy­ing up­town when they put in new sew­ers, we put money into that so there could be a lit­tle bit more [brick­ing].”

The fes­ti­val starts bright and early in Welles­ley at 7 a.m. and runs un­til about 3 or 4 p.m. this Satur­day.

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