Autumn Kick-off in Western New York: The Busti Apple Festival


“For the first time in 60 years the Busti Mill is just about ready to start up again,” Norm Carlson explained proudly. “And the Apple Fest is a great time to come see it.” Carlson is one of the organizers of the 2012 Busti Apple Festival, slated for the last Sunday in September every year, the first week of autumn. That’s September 30th for 2012, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine.

The Busti Mill was built in 1881 and remained in operation grinding flour and grist (grain ground for animals) until 1948. In 1973, it became the property of the Busti Historical Society and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Some of the old mill stones, conveyors and other historic milling machinery have been loving and carefully restored to working condition for visitors to see demonstrated in operation. Final stages of restoration are now under way.

Three hundred fresh baked, home made pies—apple, cherry, berry-rhubarb and just about everything else that can be baked into a golden crust—will be on sale at the Apple Fest this year according to Carlson. A wide selection of New York’s finest cheeses, apples by the bushel, cider by the gallon or the glassful, served by Busti town officials, and a bustling Farmers’ Market—stocked with locally grown produce, pumpkins, honey, maple products, and vegetables—will make the festival a perfect country shopping experience.

Other features will include a live, one room school house demonstration, a Civil War reenactment, music and dance demonstrations, antique and model engines, Busti Mill tours, grain milling and much more.

The Busti Apple Festival, founded in 1975, was the successor to the 1972 Busti Pioneer Crafts Festival, the first of its kind in southwestern New York, patterned after a fair originated in Madison County, Wisconsin in1965. For many years, the BFD also hosted the Annual Busti Fire Department Galadays on its rounds as a fund raiser.

This year The Apple Fest will be held on the grounds of the sponsoring Busti Historical Society, next to the historic Busti Mill and Museum. Admission is $3 per adult, children under 12 are free and everything is handicapped accessible. Parking is free on the adjoining Busti Volunteer Fire Department grounds.

Twenty five percent of the proceeds of Busti Apple Festival go toward the ongoing restoration of the Busti Mill, the historic center of country life and the heart of nearly every rural community of the 19th and early 20th Century. “People should remember we are a part of the ‘Circle of Life,’ Carlson said.

“In the early days of our country, the farmers planted and harvest the grains—wheat, barley, oats and more. The mill ground it into flour for the people and grist for the cattle, and then the cattle helped fertilize the fields and till and harvest them all over again. It was a self-sustaining and

wholesome life style. The old mill was at the center of it all. Today, all we seem to know is what we consume, not how it got to our tables.”

A demonstration of the pioneer and 19th century life and survival skills will be a feature of this year’s Apple Fest, The demonstrations will include a wide variety of homestead staples such as spinning and weaving, quilting, flax breaking, candle making, log hewing, and soap making. This year the craft booths will number well over 100 featuring hand made, handicraft items on sale by many skilled local vendors and artisans.

Ready to eat seasonal and down home foods will also be on hand to enjoy while strolling the ground or to stake home foods, including, funnel cakes, beef on kümmelweck, authentically made apple butter, the ever popular country fair food, hot dogs, hamburgers and pop, Lakewood Kiwanis’ chili and, new this year, thick and hot vegetable beef soup made to an old home recipe.

A special benefit provided by the Busti Apple Fest every year is that 50 percent of the proceeds are donated to the Busti Fire Department. The BFD has served with distinction for nearly 75 tears, and enhanced its emergency response capability in 1973 when the Department purchased its first Ambulance. Today, the BFD answers 250 and more fire emergency calls every year covering nearly 65 square miles and a rural and village population of nearly 4,500. Seventy percent of the calls to the BFD first responders are for farm and household emergencies other than fires. “Look for them at the Busti Apple Festival,” Carlson said, “and thank them.”

The only caution Carlson mentions is for visitors to leave their pets at home. “We’ve learned from experience that family pets, even on a leash, can make it hard on folks in large crowds, especially if there are small children along.” The Busti Grist Mill, adjacent to the Busti Apple Festival, is on Lawson Rd., Busti, New York. The Busti Historical Society is chartered by the of New York State Department of Education. For more information, Jamestown Gazette readers can log on to or call: (716) 483-0134.