BUSTI - For the past 37 years the residents of Busti have come together in celebration of the harvest season.
Every last Sunday in September people from all over the county gather in Busti at the grounds between the Grist Mill and the Busti Museum. This year the tradition will continue when the 38th annual Busti Apple Harvest Festival begins on Sunday at 11 a.m.
The Festival, which features pioneer and 19th century skill demonstrations, craft vendors, a farmers' market, and ready to eat and take home foods, will also serve as a fundraiser for the historic 173-year-old Busti Grist Mill and the Busti Fire Department.
At the 38th annual Busti Apple Harvest Festival guests will enjoy pioneer and 19th century skill demonstrations, craft vendors, a farmers’ market, ready to eat and take home foods, and stage-coach rides by Crackerjack Farm will be available for an additional charge.
"Historical societies are chartered by the State Education Department, and this is part of our mission," said Norman Carlson, event coordinator. "We encourage adults and young people to come and learn these skills, and to support the original mission of restoring the Mill."
This year there will be several more historical and educational demonstrations available for viewing including: shingle making, flax breaking, blacksmithing, candle making, apple butter making, log hewing, leather work, butter churning, quilting, knitting, spinning and grain grinding.
"New this year is Vincent Martonis of the Hanover History Center," said Carlson. "He has one of the best history exhibits and some interesting things in terms of Chautauqua County."
Guests will also be able to enjoy the 130 craft booths that feature handmade items such as: turned wood products, hand painted wooden holiday decorations, wooden chairs, candles, jewelry, ceramics, spices, baskets, place mats and more.
In addition to featuring apples and cider, the farmers' market will also include seasonal produce, maple products, honey, New York cheese, apple butter, home made vegetable beef soup, and baked goods. Grain will be ground and flour sold from portable stone mills adjacent to the installed equipment. Plus, the "famous" Busti homemade pies will be for sale by the piece and the pie in several varieties such as: apple, cherry, red raspberry, strawberry-rhubarb, blackberry, blueberry, and peach.
"People know about the pies and are eager to get them, so much so that they usually sell out earlier in the day," said Carlson.
Ready to eat food such as beef on kimmelweck, hamburgers, hot dogs, coffee, pop, lemonade, funnel cakes, candied apples, chili and sweet corn will also be available.
But, the festivities wouldn't be complete without some live music and dancing. That's why Old Dawg Bluegrass will perform in the central demonstration area.
The Allegheny River String Band will also be performing and organizing square dances whenever there is a willing crowd on the road between the Busti Museum and the Miller house.
"These are not what you'd hear locally in the 19th century, but it's a good fit and it is in the spirit of things," said Carlson.
Other attractions include stage-coach rides by Crackerjack Farm of Bemus Point, local tractor exhibits, and a veneer mill will be operating on the grounds.
Busti introduced the craft festival concept into the southwestern New York area with the two-day Pioneer Craft Festival in 1972. The first Apple Festival was held in 1975.
"People love the festival for many reasons," said Carlson. "It's one last fling of summer's outdoor freedom where you don't have to worry about the weather. People see each other in a good mood. And, it's educational in the most pleasant way."
Built in 1838, the mill has been under reconstruction since 1971. Now in the final phase of restoration, festival guests will have the opportunity to see the "dramatic progress" that has been accomplished in the past year. As a result of the restoration project, some of the milling machinery will be run as a demonstration.
"We've made tremendous progress," said Carlson. "We're setting up two runs, although the mill originally had three, one of the runs has the full set up of top and bottom stones. And, some of the auxiliary machinery such as elevators, chutes, shafts, and belting in is place so we can run some of that. There is enough in place so that guests can at least get the feel of the rumble of the mill."
Admission is $3 per adult with children under 12 free. Parking is free on the adjoining Busti Volunteer Fire Department grounds. For more information visit townofbusti.com/apple.html.