WELLSBURG - For more than 30 years, the Wellsburg Applefest has been offering area residents a variety of food, entertainment and family fun.
And this year's event was no different, as it opened Friday on the Wellsburg Town Square and Charles Street, with area residents turning out for the carnival rides, live music and assorted crafts and food.
The festival continues today, with activities to include the crowning of the Applefest queen and other royalty at noon by special guest, Miss West Virginia Kaitlin Gates; and pumpkin-carving contest for youth (using safety knives) at 2:30 p.m.
ENJOYING THE RIDE — Gunnar Casto, 6-year-old son of Brian and Michelle Casto of Wellsburg, was among the children who enjoyed the amusement rides at the Wellsburg Applefest Friday. The festival continues today and Sunday with a variety of entertainment, food and activities, including a pumpkin-carving contest for youth at 2:30 p.m. today and the Apple Bake-off at 2 p.m. Sunday on the Wellsburg Town Square. -- Warren Scott
Main Street Bank also has set up a tent on the square where children may make their own crafts.
Entertainment will be provided by vocalist Toni Voltz at 9 a.m., the Christian Life Apostolic Church Chorus at 10 a.m., chain saw carver Jeff Roscoe at 11 a.m., the Shirlie Rogers Dancers at noon, River City Line Dancers at 1 p.m., Brenda Casey Dancers at 2 p.m., disc jockey Jack Carbasho at 3 p.m. and Refugee at 6 p.m.
Sunday's lineup includes the National Pike Pickers at noon, Hit Play at 2 p.m. and Hot Pursuit at 4 p.m.
The annual Apple Bake-off contest also will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday. Entries for the contest should be brought in non-returnable containers to the town square no later than 1 p.m.
Winners will be named for the best entries in three categories: Things made with dough, such as pies, cookies, dumplings, etc.; cakes; and miscellaneous, such as applesauce, apple butter, apple desserts, etc.
Over the years, apples have been served at the festival in a variety of ways, including pies, fritters, apple butter, cider sold by the glass or gallon and in bags of assorted varieties to go.
Members of the Wellsburg Kiwanis Club have been regulars, selling hundreds of apple pies or turnovers at their booth on Charles Street. This year they have brought 1,400 apple pies and 200 pecan pies.
"We're selling pretty well. We're approaching half of what we ordered," said Bob Haas, who chairs the booth, which benefits various community projects pursued by the club.
Aiding them were Brooke High School Key Club members Raeann Lahita, Thomas Lancaster and Drew Garrett. The group is among a handful of youth auxiliaries at local schools established by the club to encourage teens and children to serve the community.
"Our foremost motto is: Children - Priority One. You've got to take care of the children. That's our future," Haas said.
Among many non-profit groups participating in the festival was Christ Episcopal Church, whose members were selling roast beef sandwiches, baked goods and hand-knitted hats for adults and children.
"We've been here for many years," said church member Becki Krzywdik, who added Friday evening's warm, sunny weather brought them many customers.
The festival also offered local businesses a chance to showcase their products. Among them was the BBQ House, which was opened on the city's north end last fall by Gary and Betty Kruger.
Serving up barbecued pulled pork sandwiches and sweet ice tea were employees Karen Keenan and Susan Dawson.
Keenan said the restaurant participated in last year's Applefest and she knows it draws many visitors from outside the area.
"People actually come in town to visit relatives, so it's like a reunion," she said.
Nancy and Kurt Campbell of Wellsburg said besides the assorted food and crafts, they enjoy seeing old friends there.
Betty Lou Harris, a retired schoolteacher, said she often sees former students while seeking out, among other things, fudge sold by the Franklin Community Fire Department.
The department also was selling chances on a Polaris all-terrain vehicle and a collection of gift certificates worth about $2,650.
Among the various craft booths was one manned by Family Roots Farm that included wreaths of colorful Indian corn with bows made from corn husks, ears of corn with blue bows and yellow ribbons reading "Go 'Eers" - a reference to the West Virginia University Mountaineers, of course - and other items.
Cathy Hervey said the farm is run by her daughter Britney and her boyfriend, Charles Farris.
The family also was selling all-natural maple syrup collected from their farm.
Michael O'Brien, who co-chairs the festival with Ernie Jack, said those seeking a souvenir or unique gift might consider Applefest mugs, bearing the likeness of Johnny "Appleseed" Chapman; shirts and cookbooks, all sold at the information booth on the town square.
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)