Article Contributed by
Jamestown Renaissance Center
The last Sunday in September (September 29 this year) is time once again for the annual Busti Apple Festival in the community of Busti, located between Jamestown and the Pennsylvania border.
Western New York and northwestern PA are filled with craft festivals and folk fairs each year, but the Busti Apple Fest continues to be one of the most popular and admired. It is also one of the first, and oldest, craft festivals in this part of the country.
The history of the festival dates back to 1969 when a local 4-H group, the Shamrocks, took on a community project, aiming to save the local grist mill which had been closed for the previous ten years. Other groups and individuals had made suggestions and efforts, but little had come of these. But thanks to the Shamrocks, work began on the grounds in August of 1971.
In February of the next year, 1972, the Busti Historical Society was formed as a way to aid in the restoration of the mill and to preserve and pass on local history and skills. After 40 years of volunteer and professional effort, largely supported by proceeds raised by the annual festival, the mill was rededicated to the community in 2013.
From the start the Apple Festival, and its predecessor Pioneer Festival, has featured demonstrations of 19th century life skills, private vendor sales of handmade craft items, and a farmers’ market offering local produce and related agricultural products. The festival has built a reputation on ready-to-eat and take- home foods, including but not limited to local apples, cider, candied apples, apple butter, many flavors of home-baked pies, and funnel cake, plus offerings such as beef on kummelweck sandwiches, hotdogs, hamburgers, pulled pork, pop and coffee.
The demonstrations have included spinning, weaving, soap making, apple butter making, butter churning, candle making, antique farm equipment demonstrations, and an exhibit of 19th century gun makers of Chautauqua County. The Allegheny Crossing String Band plays 19th century tunes throughout the day and is prepared to call an impromptu square dance on the spot if at least 8 individuals are interested!
A one room school house will be open at several times during the event, offering information on the history of 19th century schooling.
There will be over 80 craft stalls from the festival grounds to the parking lot, offering every imaginable handmade item for use, amusement or gift such as wicker baskets, pottery and ceramics, candles, soap, wooden toys and furniture, jewelry, candy, quilts, flags, bird houses, knitted items, wreaths, dolls, and hand-painted glassware. Local apples and apple cider will be available for purchase in the pavilion. The Grist Mill will be operating for demonstrations and tours.
Many of the demonstrations along with numerous antiques, displays and educational exhibits are housed in the new and roomy Demonstration Building. A more formal museum fills the first floor that also houses a kitchen. Civil War encampment 11th PA Volunteer Infantry will be one of several groups to visit, and will bring along an operating cannon. Pony and horse drawn carriage rides will be available.
The miller house, dating from the early years of the Mill’s history, and serving as home for many of the millers is undergoing restoration. The exterior is completed, and several rooms of the interior will be open during the Festival.
Parking is free at the Firemen’s grounds. Signs will lead you to the best way. Admission is $5 per adult, children 12 and under get in free. For your own protection, the festival asks that no dogs or other pets permitted on the grounds.
Proceeds will support the upkeep and further development of the mill and historical grounds, and future events hosted by the society, such as the annual spring Victorian dinner. Admission fees are split with the Busti Volunteer Fire Department.
The Busti Historical Society would like to thank the generous sponsors of this year’s event: Tri James Services, INC.; the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation; Wilcox Bros.; Lakewood Rod & Gun Club; NY Precision INC.; Lakewood Mart; Stillwater Garden Market; and Jamestown Macadam INC. Without the community’s support, the festival would not be possible!
The festival will open at 11 AM and go until 5 PM, rain or shine. There will be accommodations for the handicapped.
For more information visit the Busti Historical Society on Facebook!