44th Annual Oak Harbor Apple Festival a sweet tradition

Oct 18, 2023 | Featured, Around Ottawa County | 0 comments

Apple Festival Queen, 1st Attendant, Madison Witt, 16, left, and Apple Festival Queen Corrina Brough, 16, stand with eight-month-old Grainger Bond in front of the Witt Orchards stand at the festival. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)


The 44th Annual Oak Harbor Apple Festival got off to a rainy and windy start on Saturday that forced the cancelation of some events and kept vendors scrambling to keep their booths secure. But Sunday’s festivities were held under blue skies and mild weather – a perfect atmosphere for the Apple Festival Car Show at Oak Harbor High School, which featured nearly 200 vintage cars, trucks and motorcycles.

Among the cars was a JP29 Jeep, a replica of a Jeep featured in the first and fourth Jurassic Park movies. Daniel Laird of Fremont purchased the Jeep about two years ago in West Virginia from its previous owner, who gave up on the project early on.

Daniel Laird sits in his replica Jurassic Park JP29 Jeep at the Apple Festival Car Show on Sunday. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

“I have done most of the work,” Laird said. “He had some of the paint done, but there was no top, and it had the wrong wheels. I’m trying to make it as screen-accurate as possible.”

Laird is a member of the Ohio division of the Jurassic Park Motor Pool, a group comprised of owners of Jurassic Park and Jurassic World replica vehicles. The group met in Cincinnati to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the show earlier this year, and nine Jurassic Park Jeeps gathered on Kelleys Island in June.

2023 Apple Festival Jr. Princess Olive Walker, 10, wears her green-studded crown at the festival on Sunday. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

Shuttle trains made continuous loops around town, transporting event goers to various sites, including the main downtown event area, where dozens of food, craft and merchandise vendors were set up. Kids enjoyed carnival rides and games near the river, live music played throughout the day, and the Portage Fire Department held an open house. By noon on Sunday, downtown Oak Harbor was packed with people enjoying the festival, which is organized and managed by the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce.

Throughout the weekend, Boy Scout Troop 316 cooked apple butter over an open fire, just as they have been doing for about 40 years. Scout Master, 95-year-old Roger Carpenter, has been leading the troop since 1951. He said a local Methodist church made and sold apple butter decades ago, and the troop got involved as helpers. Eventually, Troop 316 took over the project.

Eleanor Roberts, 1, peeks out from her stroller to watch the activity at the Oak Harbor Apple Festival on Sunday. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

“The church quit doing it around the time the Apple Festival started up. EMS did the first time, but they had trouble cooking it. We bought the kettles and have been doing it ever since,” Carpenter said.

Boy Scout Jacob Frank, 13, took a turn standing over the smoking kettle on Sunday, constantly turning the apple butter to keep it from burning.

A boy chooses apples at the Witt Orchards stand. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

“At eight in the morning we started the fire and prepped the coals,” Frank said.

To ensure they have enough apple butter to meet demand, the troop does a four-kettle spring cook and then cooks three kettles on Apple Festival weekend.

“People come looking for us. Last year, we ran out completely,” said Assistant Scout Master Keton Perkins.

Best friends Eleanor Roberts, 1, of Oak Harbor, and Emeryn Deniston, 18 months, of Pemberville, sport matching apple dresses at the Apple Festival. (Photos by Sheri Trusty) (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

Making apple butter is beneficial for the scouts, and it creates a sentimental tradition for villagers.

“It’s a good moneymaker,” Carpenter said. “We like it, because it gets the kids involved.”

See more Apple Festival photos here.

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