Annual Busti Festival Begins Unofficial Start Of Fall Season

BUSTI – Giant wooden bins filled with just about every apple imaginable greeted visitors Sunday at the annual Busti Apple Festival, which symbolically has kicked off fall in southern Chautauqua County for more than four decades.

Heather Courtney was one of many area residents who showed up earlier in the day, hoping to beat crowds and grab some of the better apples available. Courtney has been coming to the Busti festival for so many years, relatives joked she’s had her picture in the newspaper more than once.

“I come for the apples,” said Courtney, a Jamestown resident. “These are some of the absolute best and I like to make apple pie. It’s become a tradition to come here.”

The apples are shipped to Busti yearly from Medina, which festival organizers said is important. Having the produce grown in Western New York means as much symbolically as it does for freshness, said Kim Arzner, a member of the Busti Historical Society.

“We think it’s important that the apples were grown right here in New York,” Arzner said.

The apple festival, which is also sponsored by the Busti Volunteer Fire Department and held yearly since 1975, has become a big draw for the town and county. It’s also the historical society’s largest fundraiser of the year.

According to organizers, some of the revenue from this year’s festival will go toward continuing renovations to the Miller’s House – a dwelling across the street from the iconic Busti Mill. The Miller’s House was built in the early 1840s and is in the process of being restored to its original state, Arzner said.

The goal is to use the house as a showcase of 19th century living.

“The Miller’s House is part of the past,” Arzner said, “so it’s important that we restore it in its original condition.”

On Sunday, festivalgoers had a chance, if even in moderation, to see 19th century living in the form of wood crafting, furniture making and war reenactments. Various foods, many of featured apples as a main ingredient, were on sale, as was maple syrup, cheeses and kettle corn.

One of the biggest features, though, were the vendors. Lined up along Mill and Lawson roads. Festival organizers heavily promoted the more than 100 craft booths available to attendees. The farmers’ market-style booths were lined with customers by 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

“My wife is definitely shopping today,” said Bemus Point resident Jim Payne, who had two kids – Kiley, 2, and Hunter, 6 – in tow. “We like to come here every year. There’s just a lot here.”

The Busti Apple Festival is the successor to the Pioneer Crafts Festival and held on the last Sunday of September. Demonstrations included spinning and weaving, quilting, candle making and soap making.

The original crafts festival, historical society members said, was held Sept. 16 and17, 1972. It was patterned after a festival first held May 1965 in Madison County.