Oxford Presbyterian Church’s Apple Festival
● By Steven Hoffman
The Oxford Presbyterian Church’s Apple Festival took place on Saturday, Sept. 30, and the 28th edition of the popular annual event included plenty of fellowship, family-friendly activities, and fun for people of all ages.
“We have a good crowd today,” said Neeley Spotts in the midst of all the activities on Saturday afternoon. Spotts once again co-chaired the Apple Festival Planning Committee with Bethany Atkinson, and they coordinated the efforts of sixty or more volunteers who helped plan and stage the event.
Food is always an important part of the Apple Festival, starting with the apple pies, apple butter, and apple cider that have become fixtures of the event. Church members once again made dozens of pies.
Laura and Peter King once again had their cider press at the festival—they’ve participated in each one.
Laura explained that she and her husband visited a cider mill in New England during their honeymoon. They liked the cider press so much that they eventually got one—and put it to good use at the festival. This year, the Kings’ son-in-laws, Phil Tacey and Phillip Hostetter, were helping out.
Laura said that children love learning how to operate the cider press, and they line up to use it throughout the day.
The festival featured dozens of vendors, including artisans and crafters, as well as numerous nonprofit organizations that were promoting their causes.
Hudler explained that he picked up the hobby about eight years ago.
“It had always been something that I was interested in,” he said, explaining that he once went to Fort Delaware and saw a blacksmithing demonstration. Later, he took classes in college.
This was Hudler’s first time staging a demonstration at the Apple Festival, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not very familiar with the event.
“I have been coming to the Apple Festival since I was old enough to walk,” he said. “I love the Apple Festival.”
Lots of people were enjoying themselves at this year’s event. The lineup of entertainers on the stage included Rob Robinson, Brett & Bennett, Chapter VII Gospel, and the Upper Chesapeake Community Band.
There was also a silent auction of a wide variety of items that had been donated for the Apple Festival. The auction items included everything from gift cards to local businesses to artwork to collectibles.
Spotts said that the Kids Zone, with children’s games and activities, was also expanded this year.
“We have a lot of activities for kids this year,” she said.
All the proceeds from the Apple Festival benefit the Oxford Presbyterian Church. The festival got its start in 1989 after a devastating fire over Memorial Day weekend severely damaged the church building. The church members were resilient and planned the first Apple Festival for later that year to help with the rebuilding effort. Through the years, the festival became a tradition, and proceeds from the event have helped many different worthy causes.
Last year, Spotts said, they donated about $8,000 of the proceeds of the 2016 Apple Festival to the inclusive playground project. This year, the Oxford Community Preschool was chosen as the primary beneficiary of the 2017 festival. The Oxford Community Preschool is a non-profit organization that offers a safe and nurturing learning environment for children in the community. The proceeds from the Apple Festival will be utilized for full or partial scholarships for children in the community to attend the preschool program; to supply learning tools and curriculum that can help children with special needs; and training for the staff to help better serve the children with special needs in the classroom.