The process may change, but the ‘core’ remains the same

There was a stir-a-thon at the Frost United Methodist Church last Saturday as community members gathered for the annual apple butter fundraiser. In the foreground, Ralph Hinkle stirs, while Steve Tritapoe mans the second kettle. S. Stewart photo

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

For more than 40 years, the parishioners at Frost United Methodist Church and members of the surrounding community and beyond have gathered at the church in the fall to make apple butter as a fundraiser and to enjoy a friendly gathering.

This year, nearly 20 people arrived early and stayed late to peel and slice 28 bushels of apples and to stir the bubbling, sweet smell-ing mixture in cast iron kettles.

Spokesman for the group, Steve Wooddell, who does not answer to “Mr. Wooddell,” said the gathering may change in size from year-to-year, but the tradition remains alive, and folks enjoy seeing one another, no matter the temperature.

“It’s part of the history of Frost,” Wooddell said. “The crowd dwindles a little every year. You lose people, and people are busy with grandchildren, going to football games. It becomes a little more difficult, the hours are a little longer, but it’s still a labor of love.”

The apple butter gathering is held each year at the church’s picnic pavilion. When the concrete floor was poured, two circular areas were left void of concrete, leaving perfect spots to build fires for the kettles.

The savvy innovations don’t end there. Wooddell made a life-changing investment years ago to help with peeling the apples.

“I sat on a bench one year and twisted until I was blue in the face and couldn’t stand up,” he said. “So, I bought an automatic apple peeler. Yesterday, we peeled twenty-eight bush-els of apples. We started at 11 a.m. and finished around 6:15 p.m. last night. That’s with an automatic peeler.”

While it is a Frost community gathering, people from other states come in to reconnect with their roots and former neighbors.

“We’re blessed that people show up,” Wooddell said. “[Friday], there were probably fifteen people coring and slicing apples. We have people from Maryland here today. We have a few from North Carolina. I’m from the Washington, D.C., area. We all show up to contribute. It’s a good fundraiser.”

Wooddell and his cousin, Dave Taylor, bought the apples at Morgan’s Orchard near Union. The church is selling the apple butter by the quart for $7.50.

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