Apple Fest ushers in autumn at Grace Episcopal Church
By Brenda Sullivan - ReminderNews
Stafford - posted Thu., Oct. 17, 2013
Apple festivals mark the end of summer and the beginning of a new season with falling leaves, chilly nights and pumpkins and cider at the local farm stands.
Grace Episcopal Church in Stafford Springs has become a pro when it comes to putting together one of these festive occasions, as this year marked the 25th anniversary of its annual Apple Fest.
Production of the church’s famous apple pies began two days in advance, with volunteers baking into the night to make 160 of them, including batches to be frozen for advance orders.
Ordering in advance is a good idea, volunteers said, since slices of pie virtually disappear within a couple of hours once the festival is underway. The church starts taking orders two weeks before the festival.
More than 200 guests visited this year’s event, which was held on Oct. 12 at the historic church that sits atop a hill overlooking downtown. Besides slices of pie, guests made short work of pots of turkey chili and potato-and-corn chowder, served by a kitchen crew that included Debbie and Herb Kingsbury, David Clough, Bill Francis and Pete Harting.
Besides enjoying good food, visitors also shopped at craft tables, including one that displayed fanciful knitted items created by church member Odessa Derosier. Now 25, Desrosier said she started knitting when she was 10 years old. Proceeds from Derosier’s crafts will benefit a food program for children in her home village of Nueva Ecija in the Philippines, she said. She also will be taking orders between now and November, she said. You can contact her at odessajay0216@ gmail.com.
Another popular table at the festival was manned by George Knava, who did brisk business selling his homemade organic jam. He made his first jar of jam in 1985, he said, after a 60-year-old crab apple tree in his yard fell down and the 96-year-old woman next door asked if she could have the apples from the fallen tree.
This led to her sharing jam-making skills and recipes with Knava, who then asked another neighbor if he could have the concord grapes growing wild on their shared fence, and that became the beginning of a consuming passion.
Today, Knava makes 800 jars of 16 different kinds of jam a year, using fruits he grows in a 100-by-100 foot garden in his yard… including quince, blueberry, current and gooseberry bushes. For those who missed the festival, Knava will take orders for his organic jams as long as supplies last. He can be reached at 860-684-7776.
The Rev. Helen Moore said she couldn’t be happier with this year’s turnout, and all the hard work on the part of the festival committee headed by church member Robin Williams. Proceeds will be used for the church’s mission and community outreach projects as well as for maintenance and repairs of the 136-year-old church, she said.