Oct. 14 2010 12:00 AM

Fenner Nature Center hosts Apple Butter Festival

    (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.

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

    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.”

    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

    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.”

    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.

    festivals do not live by apple butter alone.

    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.”

    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

    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

    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

    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
    a monthly solo artist for L.A.U.G.H.

    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.

    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)