Caulfords make apple butter a family tradition Harvest celebration set at Farm Museum


One of the most prominent smells of autumn is of apples -- apple pies baking, applesauce simmering, apple butter spread on homemade bread.

In 1966, at the Carroll County Farm Museum's first Fall Harvest Days, Mae and Elwood Caulford set up a copper kettle behind the farmhouse and made fresh-from-scratch apple butter. With the help of their son Jim, they put the fall delicacy in jars and sold it to the 7,000 visitors who attended this first affair.

Jim and his wife, Ann, are carrying on the tradition 27 years later. Their children and grandchildren will join them tomorrow and Sunday to help stir the 40 gallons of Mother Caulford's Applebutter that the big kettle holds.

"The children and grandchildren have gotten older and have lives of their own, but they still come out and help when they can," said Mr. Caulford, 69. "And Larry and Steve Shipley have come out and helped for years."

Ann gathers her equipment and the couple travels from their Leisters Church Road home to the Farm Museum to start the fires by 5 a.m. that must burn all day to cook the apple butter.

"Mother and Dad had a recipe for the apple butter, but back then you got all these clubs and groups together to peel and cut the apples, but now you can't do that," Mr. Caulford said. "So, the Farm Museum decided a few years ago to start buying apples already cooked into sauce from a Pennsylvania company, and we cook that."

Using the apple sauce, you just add sugar and cinnamon and stir constantly over the fire, and presto! You have apple butter.

"It can be ruined real easy -- it has to be stirred constantly and should be moving all the time," Mr. Caulford said. "And if the wood gets up against the kettle it can burn the apple butter and there's nothing to do but to start all over."

You can look for Jim and Ann and their family in the equipment building from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday during Fall Harvest Days.

Apple butter making will be only one of many demonstrations and activities featured at this traditional event which celebrates the bringing in of the harvest.

Farm Museum artisans will show their skills in tinsmithing, blacksmithing, quilting, weaving, chair-caning, broom-making and corn-husking.

Holiday shopping will be made easy at the 66 craft stands, which will sell everything from jewelry, carvings and clothes to ironworks, quilts and pottery.

Some 30 food stands will offer the best of the harvest, from fried chicken, pit beef and country sausage to apple dumplings, fudge and homemade pie.

"We have lots of great entertainment on stage and a pedal pull for the youngsters where they pull

weights on a little tractor," said Dottie Freeman, administrative marketing specialist for the Farm Museum.

"We blend a lot of history into the harvesting," she said. "We have the Mason-Dixon Historical Society demonstrating threshing, we have an indoor train exhibit and the scarecrow-making workshop."

The scarecrow making will go on both days. For $8, you can make a full-size scarecrow using the Farm Museum's clothes, or you can bring your own clothes and save $3.

There will be wagon rides around the grounds. The farmhouse will be open for tours and the general store open for shopping. Jerry Brown, a vaudeville performer, will be strolling the grounds as well.

The heaviest-pumpkin contest will be judged at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Last year's winning pumpkin weighed in at more than 150 pounds, Ms. Freeman said.

And, there are all the museum's buildings, which house artifacts from the late 19th century -- when life was simpler -- plus farm animals in their pens.

"The setting adds to the ambience of the festival," Ms. Freeman said. "We focus on the agricultural aspect and farm life, showing those times of bringing in the harvest, and what better place to show that than on a farm?"

Admission to Fall Harvest Days is $4 for adults, $2 for children 12 to 18 and seniors 60 and over, and free for children under 12. No alcohol or petsare allowed. Information: 848-7775.

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