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Despite rain, Greencastle turns out for Apple Festival

GREENCASTLE - Kim Matson made sure to get an apple dumpling at the Apple Festival on Saturday.

She was waiting until she got home to savor the delicacy, a top attraction at the annual festival which often sells out before everyone gets one.

Her plan was to warm it up and enjoy it with ice cream. "They're completely home-made and they taste great," she said.

Matson was demonstrating basket-weaving at the Apple Festival to those who didn't mind a little rain. Along with basket-weaving, there were spinning and smithing demonstrations to expose visitors to an important part of life when the Tayamentasachta Center for Environmental Studies was a farm.

Matson, who has been weaving baskets for years, taught herself the craft and enjoys both making and teaching basketry.

"I love sharing basket-making with other people," Matson said. "I love the process. The end result is important, but the process is important to me."

Matson has been attending the Apple Festival for years after initially being recruited by Charles White, the former director for the Tayamentasachta Environmental Center. White has been involved with the festival in some capacity since its inception 33 years ago.

The Apple Festival started in 1980 when it was suggested the community have an Apple Day.

Apple products such as butter, cider, and dumplings were sold at the first festival. The event was so successful, it's been a community staple ever since, giving families a chance to get outside and learn about the outdoors, according to White.

The first year, 300 dumplings were made in the outdoor dutch oven and Saturday that number was expected to grow to between 1,200 and 1,400 dumplings. The process started Friday, when one of the classes at Greencastle-Antrim High School made the dough. Volunteers rolled it out, and the baking process started at 7 a.m. Saturday morning.

The money raised by the festival will benefit the Environmental Education Advisory Committee and will be used to support educational programs offered at Tayamentasachta and purchasing supplies needed for the center.

Nancy Henry, who taught kindergarten in the Greencastle-Antrim School District for 36 years, was helping to serve customers Saturday morning. She said her best memory of the festival was her first time assisting with the dumplings. She and other Apple Dumpling Gang members rolled out the dough, peeled the apples and helped prepare them for the festival.

"This is my way of giving back," Henry said.

Kim Smith has been attending the festival since she was young. To her, the tradition has always been about the community and about getting out and learning about apples. She can recall festivals with nicer weather when she'd spend two hours in line, just for a dumpling.

She can't remember a year she hasn't been at the festival.

"Even if it's raining like this, we'll come," Smith said.

David Barr, 717-881-7020