Day Trip: Shenandoah National Park’s 18th Annual Apple Butter Celebration

Your most appetizing day trip awaits you in the Mountains of Shenandoah Skyland National Park.

apple butter festival
Photo courtesy of Shenandoah National Park

On Sept. 23 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., the 18th Annual Apple Butter Celebration at The Shenandoah National Park will give festivalgoers a chance to taste rich and sugary sweet variations of this popular dessert item while also giving guests the opportunity to create and take home their own apple butter jars by boiling and stirring kettles.

“The best part about this festival is allowing others to take place in the apple butter-making process and watching them enjoy the experience of creating and tasting their own batch,” says Nick Smith, general manager of Shenandoah National Park.

Photo courtesy of Shenandoah National Park

The event, which anticipates over 3,000 guests, will also include wine tastings, pony rides and children’s crafts, plus a live band and multiple food stands offering apple-based meals. The park will be readily equipped with three already-boiled kettles for immediate apple butter offerings, plus two kettles boiling before visitors’ eyes so that they can partake in the behind-the-scenes butter-making.

The park, located in in Skyland, was initially inspired to host an apple butter festival after seeing the success of the summertime Blackberry Delight Festival. Apple butter has always been a community favorite, so it didn’t take much convincing for apple enthusiasts to rally behind another fruit-focused festival.

The event is free, as is parking, but bring cash if you are hoping to buy apple butter from one of the 14 to 16 vendors present.

To make a weekend out of it, festival attendees can find lodging at the Big Meadows Lodge, Skyland or the Lewis Mountain Cabins.

While you’re there, make sure to:

Take in your surroundings via Bearfence Trailhead’s hiking trails, or take a day with the entire family to Bear Mountain Ziplines. This activity features a climbing wall and high ropes course for kids to enjoy.

Eat at Triple Crown BBQ after a long day of apple butter-making. Only 8.6 miles from the park, this restaurant has a variety of meal choices ranging from sandwiches to full platters of barbecue and dessert.

Explore the Monarch Butterflies event, which includes a Shenandoah ranger talk, interpretive activities, a monarch tagging demonstration and a monarch butterfly release.