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Harvest Festival Never Fails to Impress

By Staff | Oct 12, 2016

Photos by Miles Layton Nick Spencer (left) and Hunter Yost do the work necessary to grind the apples into a delicious brown apple cider on Saturday during the Middle Island Harvest Festival.

As a large machine carefully ground corn, Joseph Smith was there to catch and bag the yellow cornmeal Saturday morning at the Middle Island Harvest Festival at the Tyler County Fairgrounds.

“We’ll probably be filling around 400 bags today,” Smith said. “I like this festival. It’s a good thing – laid back.”

Nearby, Chauncey Archer and Mike Griffin were busy stirring a boiling trough filled with a sugary mixture that would become molasses. They had been at work for several hours making the brown stuff some of which they gave away as candy suckers to kids, maybe an adult or two. The sucker was sweet, a quality kind of taste.

“We do this because the younger generation has got to know where all this came from,” Griffin said.

A short hop away, David Cross tended to a simmering pot of Apple butter. The fluid in the 20-gallon pot was made from a bushel and a half of Golden Delicious apples. Without giving up the secret recipe, Cross explained how the process works. First, the moisture is cooked out of the apples before sugar and cinnamon are added.

Beverly Lamp introduces 9-week-old Allie to customers as they pass by her craft table at the festival.

“The longer you cook it, the thicker it gets,” he said.

If food wasn’t your thing, Beverly Lamp deployed a special helper to attract folks to her craft booth. She held a 9-week-old Shih Tzu blend in her arms. Kids, parents and craft enthusiasts had no choice but to pet the white puppy as they made their way around the craft tables that were filled with everything from homemade honey to fall regalia that women like to buy so as to decorate a front porch. Men sought out camouflage gear and cool knives.

When it was time for apple cider, people drank a cup as they watched Hunter Yost and Nick Spencer crush the apples into the good stuff.

Pop! Pop! Pop! The sounds of ancient machines spinning nearby conjured up nostalgic images of the days when machines were simple affairs that generated an eternity of horsepower, not computer-driven contraptions that may shut down if a sensor touches a sprig of smoke on the wrong day. Roger Riddle and his dog, June, sat by their gas engine that used to power the auxiliary water pump for Beverly, Ohio. Unlike that flip-cellphone that is gathering dust in the junk drawer, the 103-year-old gas engine was running strong as ever.

“That machine has been passed down by friends for a long time,” said Riddle of Vienna.

Hundreds of people attended the annual festival.

“I think it was a good year,” said Bill Baker, president of the Tyler County Fair Association. “Everybody is doing great and having a good time.”