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