BY SHERI TRUSTY
For many local and former residents, the Oak Harbor Apple Festival is about tradition. Each year, they return to the annual event, now in its 43rd year, to do the same things they’ve been doing since they were kids. They buy apple-shaped cookies from St. Paul Lutheran Church, watch Boy Scouts stir apple butter over steaming kettles, and purchase bags of locally-grown apples to take home.
This year’s Oak Harbor Apple Festival, held last weekend, also featured a cornhole tournament, a classic car show, the Apple Run 5K, a talent show and over 100 food, craft and retail vendor stands. Local farms sold apples by the bag, including Moore Orchard, which hauled about 60 bushels of apples to the event.
Roger Carpenter, scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 316, is an integral part of the event’s traditions. He has been a scoutmaster since 1951 and still runs the troop’s annual Boy Scout Apple Butter Stir & Sale, along with fellow Scoutmaster Roger “Biff” Minier.
“We’re the two who decide when it’s done and how sweet it should be. We carry a spoon on us,” Carpenter said. “It’s kind of an art, knowing when it’s done.”
The troop made over 200 gallons of apple butter this year. Carpenter said he learned to make the troop’s apple butter recipe in 1969 from a member of Oak Harbor Methodist Church, who gave him his grandfather’s recipe.
“He was seventy-some years old, and he learned it from his grandfather, so the recipe is from the 1800s,” Minier said.
On the other side of the festival, members of St. Paul Lutheran Church were selling apple-shaped sugar cookies using the same recipe they’ve been following since the festival first started over four decades ago. The baking team made 705 dozen sugar cookies, which are a festival favorite.
“We spent about the whole week at the church making them,” said church member Sandy Lenke. “We have a lot of people coming back for these. Parents tell us their kids call from college to tell them not to forget the cookies.”