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Thursday, October 14,2010

Spread the fun

Fenner Nature Center hosts Apple Butter Festival

by Kritika Bharadwaj
(Thursday, Oct. 14) "Why
do we need so many kinds of apples? Because there are so many folks. It
provides more contact with life, and leads away from uniformity and monotony."
– Liberty Hyde Baily.

Fenner
Nature Center executive director Jason Meyer would agree with Baily’s words.
Fenner Nature Center hosts its 37th annual Apple Butter
Festival from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m
Saturday, Oct. 16 and Sunday, Oct. 17.


“The
history of the apple butter festival started basically back in the late 1850s,”
Meyer said. “Thirty-seven years ago, it started as a way for people to come out
and enjoy the environment and also discover the relationship between humans and
the land because everything we get comes from the land and apples is the best
way to show that. Apples are a good symbol for the fall. You know, earlier, we
started out pretty small and now we’ve grown to about 2,000 people coming in
every year from all across Michigan, so it’s a big event.”


Prepared
from apples, apple cider and spices cooked over a fire, apple butter is a
delicious concoction. “It requires someone to stir it all day constantly so we
actually start making it a week before the festival because it takes so long,” Meyer
said.


“We
have all sorts of volunteers come down and help us mix the ingredients. Apple
butter has pretty much like a peanut butter and jelly consistency. So we’ll
have that for sale and it’s very organic. At home, my kids and I make apple
butter sandwiches, just like people make peanut butter sandwiches.”


Fenner
Nature Center, established Aug. 1, 1959 is a nonprofit organization, preserving
a natural environment for all living things. Although the center started off as
a City of Lansing park, it is not financially supported by the city anymore.
“The city funded the park up until two years ago, and now, we’re now a
non-profit organization,” Meyer said.


But
festivals do not live by apple butter alone.


“We
still cook apple butter, but that’s not the main focus,” Meyer said. “Now, we
have live music, heritage crafts and lots of activities for kids.”


Fenner
employees will also be showing off the center’s cider press. “It’s probably
about 75 years old,” Meyer said. “All you do is drop apples in it, squish them
and you get cider. Even with this, we’re gonna have kids helping out.”


Other activities include
quilting, pottery, lace-making, spinning, and selling homemade herbal soaps and
lotions.

And what better way to enjoy the soft apple better melting
in the mouth but with some melodious tunes?

Starting Saturday, Oct. 16, at noon, Cindy McElroy’s songs
will range from pop, rock to folk and crossover directed towards social causes.
Her performance will include her recent album “Alzheimer’s – Feel the Love” to
raise awareness and funds to help combat the disease. http://www.cindymcelroy.com/


Cindy’s ballads and stories will be followed by
L.A.U.G.H. (The Lansing Area Ukulele Group) at 1 p.m. The group meets once a
month at Elderly Instruments to strum and sing. Find out more about them at http://tinyurl.com/lansingukesfacebook


At 2 p.m. Dorothy Cooley from Grand Rapids will entertain
the crowd with her soulful jazz songs and acoustics. You can listen to her at http://www.dorothycooley.com/songs.html


The Wednesday Night Kitchen band ensemble will
play next as they pluck on their traditional Irish instruments at 3 p.m. while
guitar and vocal duo Mighty Medicine will end the evening with a mixture of
rock, funk, jazz and blues. You can check them out on
http://www.myspace.com/mightymedicine


Sunday, Oct. 17 will be slightly unusual. At
12:30 p.m., Art Cameron, horticulture professor at Michigan State University will
bring out his “zany persona.” “It’s mainly him and his guitar, so you can say
it’s closest to folk music. He has some funny stuff but serious songs too” says
Ben Hassenger, another popular musician in the Lansing area.


Cameron’s performance will be followed by Hall & Morgan at
1:30 p.m. with their contemporary sounds and strong vocal harmonies. According
to Hassenger, “Their music reminds you more of the folk music in the 60s and
70s.”


In contrast to the
intimate and down-home tunes of Hall & Morgan, Hassenger’s songs will vary from
silly to sensitive with a guitar and ukulele accompaniment. Hassenger
remains
a monthly solo artist for L.A.U.G.H.
www.benhassenger.com


Bringing the musical
tunes to a close at 3:30 pm, The Fabulous Heftones will go beyond on the
ukulele and play the bass-like Heftone with music from the 1920s.
http://heftone.com/fabulous


Apple Butter Festival
11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16 and Sunday, Oct. 17
Fenner Nature Center
2020 E Mount Hope Ave
Free (donations are accepted)

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