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Monday, September 22, 2008

Chautauqua County 34th year, Busti Apple Festival

Patrons are seen perusing the goods at the 2006 Busti Apple Festival. The 2008 Busti Apple Festival is scheduled to be held Sunday on the grounds around the Busti Grist Mill and Museum.
P-J file photo

BUSTI - Now in its 34th year, the Busti Apple Festival offers something for everyone.
Whether it's that first bite into a fresh and juicy apple, interest in one of the many demonstrations of life in the 19th century, handmade crafts, or locally grown produce, people ''just seem to love it.''
''For whatever reason, people just seem to love the festival,'' Norman Carlson, the festival publicity chairman, said. ''We are the first of this kind of craft fair in Western New York or northwestern Pennsylvania, and I think we're still the most well-known and the most well-liked. If imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, then we are very, very flattered.''
This year, the festival will be held Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the grounds around the Busti Grist Mill and Museum. Admission is $3 for adults. Children under 12 can get in free. No pets are allowed.
Parking is free and available at the fireman's grounds. For a small fee, festivalgoers can park in various private parking lots near the festival.
''We're looking forward to it,'' Carlson said. ''It takes 100 people to put the festival together and get it in action. It's an awful lot of work, but it's worth it.''
The Busti Apple Festival is sponsored by the Busti Historical Society. Chartered by the state Department of Education, the Historical Society has what Carlson called ''an educational duty to preserve and teach.''
''It's so important to pass these old skills on down,'' Carlson said. ''It's our duty to preserve and teach these historic, local skills. That's why this festival is so important. It reminds us of how we got to where we are today.''
Some of the proceeds from the fesitival will go toward the restoration of the historic Grist Mill, which dates to 1838.
''We want to have it brought back up to a condition where we can run it,'' Carlson said. ''It's important to us. We want the Grist Mill's condition to reflect its status at a period when it was used commercially.''
The Grist Mill was built in 1838 by Herman Bush, one of the early settlers of Busti. It ground locally-grown grain for both humans or animals, which made it the driving economic force for the town in a time when a transportation network didn't exist.
As transportation advanced, the Grist Mill was unique because it produced flower in spite of intense competition from Jamestown and elsewhere. That changed in 1910, though, and for the next few decades the mill produced only animal grist. It closed its doors in 1959 or 1960.
One big part of the apple festival will be the 19th Century life and pioneer skill demonstrations.
''We'll have 30 demonstrations,'' Carlson said. ''They will include log hewing, blacksmithing, candle dipping, quilting, dyeing and operating a cream separator.''
Other demonstrations will include trapping, bee keeping, leather work, knitting, spinning and grain grinding.
The historic demonstrations will also include one done in a one-room schoolhouse demonstration that will take place at three different times throughout the festival.
There will also be 130 craft vendors at the apple festival. Their wares will include wood furniture, jewelry, lawn ornaments, candles, knitted and crocheted items, ceramics, holiday decor, appliqued t-shirts and sweatshirts, towels and dishcloths, panted slate, homemade fudge and candy.
In addition, there will be a number of activities for children, such as temporary tattoos, sand art, and the opportunity to stuff a teddy bear.
The Farmer's Market, which includes only local growers, will feature Franklin's Honey, Big Tree Maple, Abers Acres and the Bavarian Nut Co.
''We'll have a number of home-made products available for sale,'' Carlson said. ''We'll have candied apples for the kids, apple cider by the gallon or by the cup, apple pie and other things that include cheese, funnel cake, hamburgers, hot dogs, pop, coffee and chili.''
At noon, the Steve Johnson Band will play an outdoor concert at one end of the Busti Firemen's Grounds.
Familiar to many in the area, the members are experienced musicians. Many of them have an established following as members of Big Leg Emma.
Busti's own Amanda Barton is one of the band members who has also been with Big Leg Emma since its inception. Steve Johnson and Steve Davis are also members of Big Leg Emma. T.R. Mckotch and Left Davis round out the Steve Johnson Band.
''They're a big draw for the younger crowd and we're so happy to have them playing at the festival,'' Carlson said. ''They're contemporary rock with a folk influence.''
Carlson said the Allegheny River String Band will also perform in the Grist Mill, which will be open for tours throughout the festival.
The festival will also include the Pennsylvania 111th Volunteer Infantry, a regiment of Civil War re-enactors.
''The Chautauqua County Genealogical Society will also have a booth, where they'll display a number of restored documents,'' Carlson said. ''They've restored the 1854 Chautauqua County wall map, the 1856 Jamestown wall map, and the 1881 Jamestown atlas.''
Busti introduced the festival concept in the southwestern New York area in 1972 with the Pioneer Craft Festival. The first Busti Apple Festival was held in 1975.

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