Pictured above is Little Buffalo State Park on a cold and windy October day.
One of my favorite things about the wonderful season of Fall, are the apple festivals. Not only do they have great food, that warms you like a comforting blanket, but they also host handcrafted items that are better and more unique then what you would find in a chain store. It was a truly enjoyable visit to Little Buffalo State Park's Annual Apple Festival this month, and I wanted to share some of the day's adventure with you.
There was plenty of places to park, for starters. If you visit the park on a regular day, you might be wondering where do all of the cars go; since the pool area is too far away from the festival. However, the place is well signed with arrows and directions for the incoming crowd. Once we found a spot, we walked passed the Butterfly Garden and onto the food truck location. Near the stage, was where the falcons were on display, by the end of the vendor line.
The food smelled delicious, but as it was an "apple" festival, I mainly stuck to the treats created with the main fruit in mind. And that is where this area's historical landmarks really get to shine. Especially when it comes to the old Grist Mill. The top left square of the collage image is a cider press. This was one of the traditional pieces of equipment that was being utilized for the day. While the exact one in the image remained dormant, volunteers operated an identical one so that people could witness how the apple cider was made. It was fascinating to watch, and even tastier to sip from the booth outside!
Placing the whole apples into the top of the press, like a modern-day meat grinder, the machine made quick work with the delicious fruit by slicing it up into small pieces. The pieces were dumped into a wooden bucket under the machine, which then was slid over by about two feet to be pressed. From there, a volunteer turned a crank that slowly squeezed the apple chunks. The juice drained out into a small container covered in cheese cloth to strain out the last of the particles. And the ending result....all natural apple cider that tasted AMAZING and sold out very quickly! (we were fortunate to get a taste, though we were too late to purchase any of the larger quantities)
To the right of the press, you can see a small selection of the vast number of tools they had on display for everyone to see and learn about. In the bottom of the collage, another wooden piece of machinery, was for grounding cornmeal. The large mill stones go into the bottom circular portion, where the different sizes, and varying types, of stones serve their own purposes. In one of the State Park's brochures, they state that "In 1849, William Shoaff purchased 63 acres of land including the gristmill and a log cabin. William continued to mill wheat flour, buckwheat flour, cornmeal and livestock feed," until he passed away in 1888.
Next up on the historical places to visit, was the Blue Ball Tavern. This well preserved 1800s building held an array of objects, historical relics, and fun facts about the area from across its over 200 year old lifespan. According to the State Park's brochure, the tavern got its namesake from placing a blue ball out in front whenever the tavern was full. And the current farmhouse on top of the original foundation, was built roughly twenty years after it was closed for unknown reasons in the late 1840s.
The lantern, in the top left corner of the image, comes from one of the rooms on the main floor and was used in the railroad. It still contains the blue paint on its exterior surface and the large hand-done numbers on the top of the lid. When it comes to the history of lanterns, a whole world is opened up where one would not think possible. (more on that another time)
In the top right corner, you will find me in the basement of the house. That is where the real tavern is and I can tell you that it felt like walking into a scene out of the TV show Hawkeye or any other show/movie based in the era of colonizing America. Stone walls provided for a cooler temperature in the small room where the travelers would sleep on the floor by the fire. It would certainly have been a welcomed rest during the long trips, while enjoying a refreshing cup of eggnog. (learned that fun tip by reading a paper on the door)
And lastly, I had to take an image of the typewriters when I saw them. The middle one is even a Remington!
Here are a few of the items I picked up while I was there: a wooden ghost by one of the vendors, a cutting board by another vendor, apple butter from the Mill, and cornmeal, also from the Mill.
Little Buffalo State Park, opened to the public in the 1970s, contains a rich history that a single blog post would not do justice. While the day went by in what felt more like mere minutes, I had a blast learning about the Mill, the Tavern, and walking around the festival. The wind was blowing something fierce, and the changing leaves danced upon the tree branches as we shopped. Fall was definitely in the air, and it was an experience that I was grateful to have this year. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention about Clay's Bridge! (how could I do that?)
If you are into covered bridges, this one is a short walk from the parking lot and is only for foot traffic now. I remember visiting the park once, a few years back, and they moved a band into the bridge due to rain. Only in Pennsylvania, huh?
I took a lot of pictures for research purposes, because... who knows? Perhaps Murial might just find herself in a place very similar to Little Buffalo State Park...back when the Mill was opened as a full time business!
If you would like to visit this beautiful park, they do a nice campground suitable for tents, pop-ups, and campers alike. You can find more information on their accommodations, including cabin rentals, at their website for Little Buffalo State Park.
To donate to the Friends of Little Buffalo, please click here.
Thanks for reading and see ya next time! #stateparkpa #fallfestival #fallfest #fall2023 #pennsylvaniawilds #visitpa #forest #theforest #craftshow #apples #applefestival #applefest #history #landmarks #tavernhistory #perrycounty #gristmill #millhistory #pahistory #learnhistory #books #authorlife #artistlife #countrylife