Busti Apple Festival canceled

BUSTI — Forty-five autumn seasons have come and gone with the Busti Apple Festival serving as each’s unofficial beginning on the last Sunday in September.

The 46th, however, will come and go without it.

Due to limitations on attendance so as to properly adhere to social distancing guidelines, the Busti Historical Society has made the decision to cancel this year’s installation of the annual festival, the society’s largest fundraiser held on its grounds originally scheduled for Sept. 27. The society had held out hope that festivities could somehow be held until their meeting last week, according to festival chairwoman Judy Schultz, who works to organize the festival each year with her husband Bob.

“We stayed on until the very last that we could until the first part of August,” she said, noting that the society also consulted with the Chautauqua County Health Department on whether the festival could still be held.

“They said that we only could have 50 people total,” said Schultz, who has been involved with the society since 1970. “We have over 100 vendors, 50 demonstrators from all over on our 20 acres. … There’s just no way we could have this for just 50 people.”

The original Busti Pioneer Crafts Festival was held Sept. 16 and 17, 1972, patterned after a festival first held May 22, 1965, in Madison County. The first Busti Apple Festival was held in 1975.

Preparation for this year’s festival — which began the day after last year’s — was well underway ahead of the cancellation.

“A lot of work has gone into this festival already,” Schultz said. “We start the day after the festival ends for the following year. This process has been going on for quite some time. The buildings were ready and the grounds were ready. Our orders were altogether, and we were getting all of the product that we’ve needed. Unfortunately, we won’t have the bushels of apples that we normally have, we won’t have fresh pressed cider from the Busti Cider Mill or the farmer’s market, food concessions or pies. We’ve been working on this for quite a few months.”

The decision, too, does not just affect the society.

“It’s devastating for the vendors,” she added. “All the other festivals and events that they have been planning on, they’ve all been canceled. … I think this was their last hope. We’ve had to disappoint them as well as ourselves.”

Still, Schultz and the society are looking ahead to next year.

“If things work out, next year, if COVID subsides and everyone is healthy, we may plan to do something in the spring,” she said. “We have reenactors from the Civil War that usually come and they’ve been coming for years and camping out here. Reenactors from the Civil War that have been coming and camping and so we’ve thought about doing something around at the end of June for the Fourth of July. We are definitely working toward other things.”

The society is hoping to have their Christmas Open House on the first Thursday in December and will hope to resume their annual Victorian dinner in May of 2021 after having to cancel this past year’s event. They are also considering a pie sale to make use of the approximately 300 pies baked in any given year for the apple festival.

“We make somewhere between 250 and 300 pies depending on the year,” Schultz said. “We now have 88 pies and had been working on our pies for the festival. So, we are planning on having a pie sale hopefully before Thanksgiving to help people with their Thanksgiving pies. … We’re also working toward a 20-C license to sell flour to restaurants and bakeries. We could always use more help in getting that ready.”

The society is also continuing to restore an 1846 Victorian house that Schultz’s husband Bob has been working on the last few years.

“The downstairs is pretty well done,” she said. “We’re continuing the restoration, there are two rooms and the pantry which is finished. The first floor is in good shape and we have to finish a few rooms as well as the wall board and the dining room wallpaper. The upstairs is ready to be painted and anyone looking to paint is welcome to contact us. In the meantime, we’ll continue to work on that building and we’re hoping in December to have that open for people to see what we’ve finished.”

But, without the festival, which accounts for 80 to 90% of the society’s budget, different projects within that restoration will have to be put on hold.

“Working toward a handicapped accessible restroom, can’t even consider it,” she said, noting that the society is taking donations and encourages those interested in helping to keep it sustainable to visit the society’s Facebook page where they can donate via PayPal or send a check to the society’s address at 3443 Lawson Road, Jamestown.

“We do have Facebook page, so if people go to Busti Historical Society, we’ll make updates about future events and the pie sale,” said Linnea Carlson, an active member of the society. “People can keep up to date as to what we’re doing that way as well. A lot of people use social media to find out information, so everyone can definitely “like” that page to know what we’re doing.”

Anyone who is looking to lend a hand is also welcome to the grounds this weekend to help with some general maintenance, Schultz added

“We will be down at the festival grounds Sunday morning to clean the grounds from where brush was removed as well as doing some other repairs and general maintenance,” she said.


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