Fireland's Friends Bond Over Apple Butter Event

By Alaina Bartel

There are 126 medium apples in a bushel. On Oct. 15, seven friends of Jody and Ben Chaffee visited their home to help peel four bushels, or 504 apples, to help prepare for their ninth-annual apple butter festival the following day.

It all started when the Chaffee’s went to their friend’s apple butter event, which they hold every other year. After that, they knew they wanted to bring it to their community.

When Ben became the superintendent of South Central, he and his wife Jody wanted to host the event to include all of the staff members and their families. For six years, they hosted it as a staff party to build a community bond. 

However, when he got his new job at EHOVE Career Center, the Chaffee’s took a few years off from hosting the event.

"When we took off those couple years, I missed it. Even though it’s a ton of work, we really missed it, and our kids missed it,” she said. "They missed having this big event at our house, and we wanted them to grow up experiencing it, and valuing the community time together and time with friends to stop the rushing around and have that time to just enjoy the fall, and enjoy your surroundings, and enjoy the people that you can spend time with.”

Last year over 200 people attended, and Chaffee prepared enough homemade chili for 300 people this year.

Along with a homemade chili station and the apple butter station, there was a hot dog and s’more station, a cookie and snack station, and a beverages station.  When their guests were not at one of these stations, they could either be found roaming around in the woods behind their home for the scavenger hunt, playing games such as left, right center, and Yahtzee, and playing various games in the woods.

At the apple butter station, their friend Gary Miller could be seen for a moment stirring the apple butter—which is made with only two ingredients: 4 bushels of apples and 20 gallons of cider. Miller said he felt obligated to stir i"Last year when I came, I didn’t stir the butter. I felt guilty for a whole year,” he said.

Chaffee added that’s part of the reason it’s a community event: because they have to invite enough people who would want to stir it.

When they take the apple butter off the heat, they let it cool. The next day, they heat it up and can it and try to send it home with as many people as possible.

Chaffee said her favorite part about hosting the event is just having time to catch up with people.

"It’s fun to have retired people come back and visit people who are still working, and have our kids make new friends and invite them and their families, and inviting more people. The list keeps growing. We’ll probably do it every year,” she said.

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