Memories Made Old Fashioned Way at Fall Fest
Two festivals drew people out for apple butter, bubbles and more last weekend in Wetzel County.
Paden City Mayor John Hoppy Hopkins and his wife Barbara were brewing apple butter since sunrise for the city’s Fall Festival.
“The key to making good apple butter — hard work,” the Mayor said moments after sampling a batch early Saturday afternoon at the city park by the Ohio River.
Barbara Hopkins added, “The secret to me is using Red Hots and we don’t use as much sugar as other people do.”
Temperatures hovered in the upper 60s on a sunny day filled with colored trees that had just begun to shed their leaves. When the Fall breeze blew, the cinnamon smell of red hots permeated the air by the bubbling kettle. During the past three weeks, the Hopkins duo had canned countless glass jars of apple butter made from John Prince and Cortland apples, spices and more.
“Hoppy makes good apple butter, said Ruth Johnson, a longtime resident of Tyler County, as she bought a pint-sized glass jar of the good stuff.
A point echoed by Mike Turner, a longtime resident of Paden City.
“No one cooks better apple butter than the Mayor and his wife,” he said.
As Jo Gorrell of Friendly sampled a taste spread across a cracker, she described the Hopkins’ elixir as “absolutely delicious” before she bought a few jars.
“I came out to the festival for the apple butter — came last year too,” she said.
A few miles away as the crow flies, Danny Westfall was busy helping kids create giant bubbles at the 23rd annual Autumnfest at the county’s 4-H grounds outside New Martinsville.
“This is a laid back festival,” Westfall said as he showed children how to use the tools needed to make bubbles that could grow larger than pumpkins. He dipped a long string attached to a small stick about a foot long.
Once the string had been immersed in the soapy liquid long enough, a kid could move without a care through the air to create brain boggling bubble.
Westfall, otherwise known as the “bubble man”of Tyler County, said he started about four years ago when he purchased a tractor that came with a little green trailer. He figured that by placing the liquid soap in the trailer’s bed, there would be less chance for kids, friends and family to spill the slippery stuff during a family reunion.
“We’ve always had bubbles,” he said.
Westfall said everyone always liked the bubbles, so he took his show on the road to a parade in Jacksonburg. For the past few years, Westfall has been entertaining kids and showing them new worlds at Autumnfest.
“I think the kids have a lot of fun,” said Westfall, a part-time school bus driver, who had a long career with the U.S. Post Office.