Annual Applefest to offer booths for youth activities

FESTIVAL PLANNED — Wellsburg Applefest Committee members, clockwise from left, Jerry Fluharty, Ernie Jack and Rita Ramsey, co-chairs; and Shirley Rogers prepare for the festival's 39th year, which will include booths for young entrepreneurs and artists and musical entertainment new to the festival as well as a variety of food and other vendors, amusement rides and other activities. -- Warren Scott

WELLSBURG — From its amusement rides to various contests, the Wellsburg Applefest always has included something for young people, and this year it will be expanding in that area by offering them a chance to be among the festival’s many vendors.

In its 39th year, the festival will return Oct. 6-8.

Ernie Jack, who is co-chairing the event with Rita Ramsey, said on Oct. 7, a limited number of 10-foot by10-foot spaces will be available on the Wellsburg Town Square for youth to sell lemonade, their own baked goods or art, used toys and other items.

He added youth-oriented groups are welcome to participate.

Jack said the free booths offer a great opportunity for youth to learn such skills as handling money, making change and interacting with customers. Adults can assist them in setting up their tables, which the they must provide, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.

After 9 a.m., only children are permitted to work the booths.

For information and application forms, call (304) 737-1599 or 737-0466.

It will be the first year the festival will be held without the leadership of Michael O’Brien, who died last year, just weeks after chairing the event for the 34th year.

O’Brien had been among the event’s founders in 1979 and enjoyed promoting its inspiration, the Grimes Golden apple, often while dressed in the denim overalls and “pot hat” of the legendary Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman.

He noted Chapman was a real person credited with planting apple seeds at many locations — including the farm of Thomas Grimes along state Route 27, where the Grimes Golden was discovered — while sharing the Christian Gospel.

“All through the festival we’re going to celebrate Michael’s life in different ways,” said Jack. Among them will be a display of many photos of past Applefests, including O’Brien’s involvement, organized by Applefest committee member Frank Johnson and Ramsey, who is O’Brien’s cousin.

The fourth-grade class of Amanda DiMarzio of Wellsburg Primary School will again present a play about Chapman’s life at 11 a.m. Oct. 6. Jack said the Wellsburg Middle School Band will again open the festival with a performance at 10 a.m. on the town square, with the school’s choir following them at 10:30 a.m.

The first day’s schedule also includes music by the Light Touch at 4 p.m. and Roz and Lynn at 6 p.m.

The schedule for Oct. 7 includes chain saw carver Jeff Roscoe at 10 a.m., the music of Beech Bottom Apostolic Church at 10 a.m., crowning of the Applefest Pageant winners at noon, the Brooke-Hancock Senior Dancers at 1 p.m., the pumpkin carving contest for youth (with safety knives) at 2 p.m., Elvis tribute artist Ralph Dale at 2 p.m., the Hillary Dancers at 3 p.m. and music by Strip Light at 4 p.m. and Lily Corathers at 6 p.m.

The schedule for Oct. 8 includes the Brenda Casey Dancers from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Toni Voltz at 1 p.m., Easy Street at 2 p.m. and Gypsy Graves at 4 p.m.

The last day also will include the All Things Apple Contest, with categories for pies, other apple-based food and crafts with apple themes. Registration will begin at 1 p.m. for the contest, which will be held at 2 p.m. on the town square. For information, call Jerry Fluharty, the contest’s coordinator, at (304) 907-0862 or

Other activities, not held on the square, include a pet show at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 7 at Sixth and Charles streets. Assorted pets, from ponies to ant farms, are welcome to participate in the contest, which will include trophies for 18 winners.

Ramsey said about 90 vendors are expected to line Charles Street for the festival while selling an assortment of food and apples served in many ways.

(Scott can be contacted at