by Gary Vickers

This was the 47th year for the Vickers Apple Butter Festival the first weekend near Harwood. A tradition each year is newcomers are initiated by tossing apple cores at them and saying, “Apple Core, Baltimore. Who’s your friend?”  The recipient this year was Dorothy Kenard who was surprised, but a good sport.

There have been a lot of changes in 47 years, but the festival is still important to the family. Gerrad Vickers was in the 2nd grade when the class was asked to write about their favorite holiday. Gerrad wrote about the apple butter weekend. The teacher said Apple Butter is not a holiday, but Gerrad assured her it was at their home.

Ten years ago, an Army buddy and one of my best friends and his wife, Mike and Criss Buser, had a plaque made and named it “Vickers Apple Butter Festival.” Other friends, the Pearson family,  had labels made for the jars which read, “Welcome to Vickers Apple Butter Festival” and “Gourmet Apple Butter.”

Stanley Vickers started the day off Saturday at 6:30 a.m. by serving biscuits and gravy and breakfast burritos and hot coffee. Tasted good on a cool morning. The peeled and cored apples went into the kettles at 6:30, also. The apple butter was cooked and in the jars by 12:30. Hot biscuits were brought out to clean the kettle and we all got a taste. Doesn’t get any fresher than that.

Shirley Vickers prepared her usual feast of taco soup, chili, vegetable soup and famous chicken dumplin’s along with the trimmings. Mary Beatty gave the blessing for our meal, our country and our veterans.

After the meal was our patriotic time. We said “Thank you” to World War II Vet, Gene Dale, two Korean vets, Charles Foreman and Earl Spiva, and then the Viet Nam vests, Mike Buser, Tim Bartkoski, Brent Beckman, Mike Codi, Fred Wilson, Tom Williams, John Leonard and myself. We all said the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag and Tim Bartkoski and Honor Guard fired the rifle salute, and then Taps. It was a very moving time.

MAKING BUTTER BETTER – Gary and Stanley Vickers tend hot apple butter.

I had the privilege of completing a mission a dear friend and my Commander in Viet Nam left me to do after he died in Nam in April 1969. I introduced his two brothers and his sister, Dorothy Kenard. I had waited six years to meet her. Her brothers had been to the apple butter festival the last five years, but this was her first trip and it was a proud moment for me to introduce her to the rest of my family. We brought back memories of her oldest brother, Fran, and sharing with us was not easy. Although we shed some tears, we had some great moments together. I think she felt at home here and realized what her brother meant to me and the other men that served with him. She has a lot to be proud of—Thank you, Dorothy.

Family traditions, friendship and honoring our vets and servicemen and women is what we all enjoy at the Apple Butter Festival, and of course, good food and apple butter. We had 130 guests and made 760 jars of apple butter even though it rained on us both days. Lots of tents kept us mostly dry and happy.

Looking forward to next year. Thanks.

Gary and Shirley Vickers and all the Vickers Family.

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