Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Methodist Church Brings Back Its Apple Festival Homemade Dumplings a Staple of Event, Set for Sept. 27

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Methodist Church Brings Back Its Apple Festival Homemade Dumplings a Staple of Event, Set for Sept. 27

Article excerpt

Just two dozen apple dumplings started it all.

In the early 1980s, Kathryn Culbert, now 93, of Elizabeth Borough used her mother's recipe and baked two dozen apple dumplings for the bake sale that was part of the first Apple Festival at the Greenock United Methodist Church in Elizabeth Borough.

"People heard about the dumplings, met me at my car, and I sold them all from the trunk," she said. "I didn't even get into the building."

Ever since, apple dumplings have been the star attraction for the annual festival that's a major fundraiser for the church. This year's even is from 1 to 6 p.m. Sept. 27.

"The festival went dormant [in 1997] because some of our parishioners got older, some moved away and the rest of us decided to try different things," said Debbie Popp Gilbert, publicity chairwoman, also from Elizabeth Borough. "Nevertheless, people kept talking about the festival, so we agreed to try it again last year."

Unfortunately, Mary Ann Hettler of Elizabeth, who headed the apple dumpling work force years before, had died. Her husband, Larry, volunteered to take up the reins and continue his wife's work.

"We wanted to revive the [apple dumpling] tradition," festival chairwoman Dana Geyer said. "We wanted to renew that involvement of the congregation and the community."

At 7 a.m. the Thursday before this year's apple festival, a group of church volunteers plans to gather to peel and core 600 to 700 apples. Others will roll out the dough and cut it into squares, while still others will fill the hole in the middle of each apple with butter, sugar and cinnamon. After the dough is sealed around the apple, Mr. Hettler will pour a ladle of syrup over the apples, then send them off to the oven to bake.

"The morning crew makes about half the dumplings, and another crew comes in in the evening to make the rest," Mrs. Popp Gilbert said.

The dumplings will be sold at the festival, two to a pan, with a two-pan limit per customer. "There will be no preorders," Mr. Hettler said. "We don't want to sell out before the Apple Fest begins."

Those wanting more of an apple fix can sink their teeth into some apple pie, apple cake or apple squares. …

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