In Liberty, you know it’s time to celebrate when they start hauling out the giant-sized food. At the 32nd annual Casey County Apple Festival, you can sample a sliver of the World’s Largest Apple Pie, a 2,000-pound pastry bursting with 45 bushels of Granny Smith apples that takes about 12 hours to bake in a customized, locally built oven.
Festival chairperson Deva Hair says it takes a winding line of festival-goers only about 1-1/2 hours to devour it piece by piece. “Everyone likes it because it’s free, and there’s not much nowadays that’s free,” she says.
The festival’s free spirit continues with the baking of a 10-foot chocolate chip cookie and a 10-foot pizza. This year’s theme is It’s a Celebration, and with food this big, you know the festivities, held in downtown Liberty on September 16-23, will also be super-sized, attracting 30,000 people.
If you’ve got the gastrointestinal fortitude, the ice cream and doughnut eating contests are at 2 and 3 p.m. on September 22. Then work it all off with nail driving, apple peeling, frog jumping, and Hula Hoop contests, featured alongside carnival rides, pageants, a spelling bee, and more than 300 vendor booths.
Paintsville pays tribute to its apple-growing heritage with the Kentucky Apple Festival, says chairman Ray Tosti. The city will host its 44th annual event October 6-7 this year, with a parade, food and craft booths, car shows, clogging, flea market, live music, carnival rides, and even the Terrapin Trot for amphibious athletes.
Outdoor apple butter-making demonstrations are held using a large cast-iron kettle, with the sweet spread sold by the pint and quart.
“It’s a hit every year,” Tosti says.
The festival has often drawn around 60,000 people, from across the U.S. and even overseas. Visitors are asked to sign a guest book, and the first person representing each state receives a bag of goodies.
“That is our weekend for us to shine and show people what we have to offer in eastern Kentucky,” Tosti says.
In the tiny town of Bedford, the population will swell sevenfold to around 5,000 people the weekend of September 9-10 for the 16th annual Trimble County Apple Festival.
The event features live music, an apple pie baking contest, children’s apple relay race, arts and crafts for kids, an antique tractor show, talent show, and vendor booths, says vendor coordinator Suzanne Sachleben.
“We sell everything from pottery, we have wood items, there’s a wide range of what they do sell–a little bit for everybody,” she says.
From Red and Yellow Delicious to Arkansas Black, Reid’s Orchard in Owensboro is all about apples. And in October, about 25,000 people will flock to the farm for the 20th annual Reid’s Apple Festival.
Kathy Reid, whose husband Billy’s family has owned the farm for more than 130 years, says the festival includes craft and food booths, carnival rides, horse and wagon rides, and apple-inspired treats, including caramel apple sundaes, hot cider, caramel apples, apple dumplings and ice cream, apple butter, apple pies, and apple cider slushies.
“I’ve had people say they come out here just to eat,” says Kathy.
Casey County Apple Festival will be held September 16-23 in downtown Liberty. A giant chocolate chip cookie will be served at 7 p.m. (ET) Wednesday, September 20, and a giant pizza served 7:30 p.m. Thursday, September 21. The World’s Largest Apple Pie will be served at noon Saturday, September 23–all in downtown Liberty’s city parking lot. A parade will be at 6 p.m. Friday, September 22. Sonny Shroyer (Deputy Enos Strate from the Dukes of Hazzard TV series) will appear September 22–23. Paid parking. No bikes or skateboards. Call (606) 787-5355 or visit www.caseycountyapplefestival.org for more information.
Kentucky Apple Festival is October 1-7 in downtown Paintsville (Johnson County). The celebration begins with pageants and events of primarily local interest. Organizers say Friday, October 6, and Saturday, October 7, 8 a.m.–11 p.m. both days (ET), are when most out-of-town visitors come for turtle races, car shows, flea market, live music, food and craft booths, and a parade (2 p.m. Saturday). Some paid parking downtown, free parking elsewhere. Visit www.kyapplefest.org or call (606) 789-4355 for more information.
Reid’s Apple Festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary at 4818 State Hwy. 144, Owensboro, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. (CT) Saturday, October 21, and 12 noon–6 p.m. Sunday, October 22. Craft and food booths, carnival rides, live music, apple-themed food, and more. Parking $2 per vehicle. Free admission. Call (270) 685-2444 for more information.
Trimble County Apple Festival’s 16th annual event kicks off September 9-10 on the courthouse square in Bedford. Held rain or shine with free admission and parking. Hours are 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Saturday, and 12-5 p.m. Sunday (ET). For information, call (502) 268-3912 or visit www.trimblecounty.com/applefest.htm.
Shannon Leonard-Boone is a regular contributor to the Traveling Kentucky column.
A high-efficiency test kitchen, tricked out with a space-age refrigerator, stainless steel cabinetry, and wall tiles, is one of the focal points of a new museum dedicated to preserving and interpreting northern Kentucky’s role in the Civil War from 1862.
At the James A. Ramage Civil War Museum in Fort Wright, in the midst of displays of Confederate money, tintypes, a children’s card game called Spy, a medical field bag, and artillery, is the heart of the home–and a time capsule of futuristic 1950s-era kitchens–where previous owner Fern Storer tested recipes. From 1951 to 1976, Storer was the food editor at The Cincinnati Post. The author of Recipes Remembered: A Collection of Modernized Nostalgia, published by Highland House Books in 1989, Storer was also known as a pioneer of microwave cookery.
Like her cookbook, Storer’s kitchen is a link between now and then. It sits not far from Battery Hooper, a 6-foot-high earthen wall raised smack on Storer’s front lawn nearly 80 years before she and her husband built their home here. The fortified cannon battery, named for industrialist William Hooper, who financed its 1861 construction, is located on a hilltop overlooking the Licking River valley. One of 28 such batteries built by Union forces in an 8-mile arc in northern Kentucky to defend against Confederate attacks, Battery Hooper is one of just six remaining today.
“It is good to remember Fern Storer,” says James Ramage, in whose honor the museum was named. Ramage, a Regents professor of history at Northern Kentucky University and author of numerous articles and several books on the Civil War, including Gray Ghost: The Life of Col. John Singleton Mosby (University Press of Kentucky, 1999), was instrumental in transforming the property into a museum.
In fact, Storer, who died in 2002, bequeathed her home and its 14 rolling acres to the NKU Foundation, which in turn sold the property to the City of Fort Wright. It was because of Storer and her husband, Sheldon, that the battery was saved archaeologically.
“The Storers covered it over with fill dirt in 1941 so they’d have a nice lawn,” says Ramage. “And in doing so, they saved the battery for us. It’s never been pitted or dug. It’s unusual to have a Civil War site that no one’s been in searching with metal detectors.”
Since recovery operations began at the site two years ago, supervised digs involving the public have taken place and unearthed the remains of several Civil War-era artifacts.
The stately house-turned-museum sits in a park-like hush with a sweeping valley vista from the battery. Inside, an equally impressive scene awaits with framed portraits and posters lining the walls and glass cases. General Lew Wallace, who would claim greater fame almost 20 years later as the author of Ben-Hur, stares sternly from the wall. The story of the Black Brigade, forced to help defend the area and build the fortifications, is recounted next to the national flag honoring their service. There are Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) medals and a diary, all of which narrate a pivotal moment in history.
James A. Ramage Civil War Museum
1402 Highland Avenue
Fort Wright, KY 41011
(859) 331-1700 or (859) 344-1145
Hours: Friday through Monday – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Upcoming Events at Ramage Civil War Museum
Fort Wright Civil War Days at Battery Hooper Park, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, August 19, and 12 noon-5 p.m. Sunday, August 20. Living-history re-enactors, including an artillery unit with cannon, musical/singing acts, homemade ice cream, and a gift shop.
Fall Public Archaeology Digs, Sunday, September 10, and Saturday, September 16. Join an archaeologist in a supervised dig. A brass harmonica plate, a nickel from 1868, marbles, dishes, buttons, pencils, and tobacco pipe fragments have already been unearthed.
Fall Harvest Festival, Saturday, October 14.
Civil War Christmas, December 9 and 10.
Other Civil War Sites in Kentucky
Take the self-guided walking tour of Fort Duffield Park & Civil War Historic Site, (502) 922-4574, www.westpointky.org, in West Point. Back in 1861, General Sherman chose West Point as his supply base; the fort protected that as well as Louisville from invasion from the south. A memorial cemetery honors 61 soldiers with the 9th Michigan Volunteer Infantry who died during the war.
Green Hill Cemetery, (502) 564-7005, in Frankfort features the only monument in the state honoring Kentucky’s African-American Civil War soldiers, and is one of just four in the country.
A 14-foot granite obelisk at the Ivy Mountain Battlefield south of Prestonsburg marks the spot where, on November 8, 1861, four Union regiments under General “Bull” Nelson clashed with three companies of the newly organized 5th Kentucky Infantry.
See the battle site that launched a presidency at the Middle Creek National Battlefield, (606) 886-1312, www.middlecreek.org, in Prestonsburg. Though more skirmish than battle, the January 10, 1862, engagement between Union and Confederate forces was a significant turning point in the Civil War: it ended Confederate supremacy in the region and laid the groundwork for James A. Garfield to become the 20th president.
Tour the childhood home of Colonel Jack May, commander of the 5th Kentucky Infantry, C.S.A., and the leading Confederate officer in the Big Sandy Valley. Built in 1817, the Samuel May House, (606) 889-9608, www.mayhouse.org, was used as a Confederate recruiting post during the Civil War period.
Kathy Witt is a regular contributor to the Traveling Kentucky column.