History is delicious in Clay County.
And it’s also fun, too.
That’s because it is home to the original Golden Delicious apple which is celebrated each fall.
It’s happening this weekend in Clay, and will offer a great way to honor the so-called “tree of gold” including plenty of tasty baked goods.
Festivities get under way tomorrow with a flag raising ceremony at 6 p.m. A pancake breakfast by the Clay Lions Club kicks off Friday at 7 a.m., and an apple pie eating contest at 6:45 p.m.
This celebration is a time-honored tradition dating back to 1972.
But that’s not all of this horticultural story.
The original Golden Delicious Apple tree is described as a “chance seedling.”
It was discovered in 1912 by Anderson Mullins near Porter Creek in Clay County.
A state historical marker is now the only reminder of the spot where the original tree was found and later cultivated by Stark Brothers Nursery.
Fame and loyal fans quickly followed in West Virginia and beyond. That popularity hasn’t waned.
It became became the state fruit in 1995, and in 2013 was one of four apple varieties to be featured on 33-cent stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service, according to West Virginia Encyclopedia’s online e-WV.
The idea to have a Golden Delicious Apple Festival came from Agricultural Commissioner Gus Douglass.
Douglas was speaking to the Clay Lion’s Club when he suggested that they undertake something to honor its roots.
With the assistance of Howard Knotts from the Department of Agriculture the festival became a reality.
This year marks the 45th annual Golden Delicious Apple Festival.
It will be held on September 14-16 in Clay.
Events include apple pie eating contests, live entertainment, carnival rides, karaoke, antique car show, art show, apple butter, pancake breakfast, quilt show and more.
Folks often return home for this popular festival, but newcomers are also welcome.
Native Clay Countians return home to meet up with old friends and enjoy the special three-day event.
The Golden Delicious Apple Festival is down home, old-fashioned country fun.
Enjoy the day in a small town, eat some homemade apple pie, make new friends and celebrate this special native apple.
Rustic Golden Delicious Apple Butter Recipe
Nothing says fall like a delicious batch of apple butter. It is as much a part of fall in Appalachia as falling leaves, frost and pumpkin pie.
You can use apple butter so many ways including as a spread, a side dish and baking ingredient.
But perhaps the best way to eat it is straight off the spoon!
One of the perks of making Golden Delicious Apple Butter at home is that your home smells deliciously of apples and spices for about 24 hours.
12 – 14 Golden Delicious Apples
2 cups apple juice
Wash the apples, but do not peel. Core and quarter all the apples. Combine the prepared apples with the juice in a lightly oiled crock-pot. Cover and cook on LOW for 10 – 18 hours or on HIGH for 2 – 4 hours.
When the apples are tender use a food mill to remove the peel. Measure the strained fruit and return it to the crock-pot. For each pint of cooked fruit add 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon each allspice and cardamom. Stir well. Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 hours, stirring occasionally, then remove the cover and continue to cook 3 – 5 more hours until thick enough to mound up on a spoon.
Spoon the hot apple butter into hot, sterilized jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Maintain 1/4 inch headspace. Process the jars for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.
Remove the jars from the canner to cool. Check seals. Store sealed jars for up to one year. If you have any unsealed jars store them in the refrigerator and used within 2-3 weeks.
Makes approximately 5 to 6 half-pints