The Lansing Apple Butter Festival brings community members back together after a two-year hiatus

News Summary:

  • “Way back when, when pioneers started making apple butter here in America, they needed the help of their neighbors to make it,” says Alexa Seeger, development and events manager. “It takes at least 12 hours to cook it over a fire, and it has to be stirred constantly, so everyone got together with their neighbors. The kids played and the adults stirred the apple butter. They were making apple cider and kind of getting ready for winter, and that’s also the heart of the festival.

  • The Fenner Nature Center in Lansing has hosted the annual Apple Butter Festival since 1973. What began as a fundraiser for the center has since grown into a popular community event for all generations.

“We like to come together with our community and just enjoy the beauty of nature and being together.

“Our mission is to connect people with nature, right here in the heart of Lansing,” Seeger said. “There are many generations here that enjoy coming to the festival. We have grandparents who bring their grandchildren to experience the festival the way it was back in the day…. I think the homey atmosphere of the festival is what brings people back year after year.”

Seeger said the festival has maintained that spirit of coming together as a community around the apple butter kettle to this day, but it has grown a bit since then. The center brings together traditional artisans such as glassblowers, lace makers, quilters, weavers and potters to demonstrate some of the historic crafts practiced during Michigan’s fall harvest.

Some, like Lansing native Tori Jefferson, have been coming to the festival since she was a child. Jefferson said she comes to the nature center regularly to take advantage of the trails, but hasn’t been to the festival in a few years. Her favorite part is stirring the apple butter.

“Just the stirring and seeing people’s joy made me very nostalgic,” Jefferson said.

Others, like Ben Greene, were at the festival for the first time this year. Greene is from Idaho but works as a resident at MSU, where he learned about the festival from a colleague.

“I think it’s a fun community activity,” Greene said. “It’s a great way for people to experience something the community has to offer while seeing the beautiful fall colors. And they learn a little bit about making apple butter.” Peggy Roberts has been attending the festival for more than 10 years and is thrilled that the festival gives people a chance to experience the nature center. She used to be the center’s board president and now returns to explore the trails and help with special events.