The Town of Newfane Historical Society plans several special events in coming weeks -- featuring everything from apples to ghosts -- to help finance its mission "to preserve and educate."
First is the annual Apple Harvest Festival next Sunday. It will feature a wide variety of local apples for purchase, as well as cider, pies, cake and apple butter.
The event is planned from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the society's Hrvol House Museum grounds, West Creek and Ide roads. Admission and parking are free.
The popular festival also features a smorgasbord of country fair-type food, including sausage with peppers and onions and beef on 'weck, as well as Art Gladow's Famous Chicken Chowder.
Displays will be featured and demonstrations offered in a number of the buildings on site, including the blacksmith shop, Manhardt Power Building and country store. Look for Civil War re-enactors busy at work in the encampment behind the historic buildings.
Live entertainment will be provided by the Easy Street Big Band from 1 to 3 p.m. in the gazebo and the Country Liners in front of the Hrvol House at 12:30 p.m.
A flea market also is planned.
Next will be the "Haunted" Candlelight Tours at the society's Van Horn Mansion at 2165 Lockport-Olcott Road, Burt, planned from 7 to 10:30 p.m. on the weekends of Oct. 9 and 10, Oct. 16 and 17, and Oct. 23 and 24. Admission is $5.
Society trustee George Updegraph helps conduct the tours.
"It's not really scary," he said. "Actors will be dressed in historical costumes and placed in different areas in the mansion. People should bring their cameras and recorders, though, because we have had a lot of action through the years, especially at Halloween time. There are four floors, and we'll have a few surprises here and there."
Updegraph said that while he never has seen a ghost at the mansion, "I once saw a bluish orb the size of a baseball. And just about every day when people are working here, they've heard voices or smelled something.
"In the past year, it's really picked up," he added. " 'Melinda' is the main spirit here, and some people smell lilacs when she or one of the other women ghosts is here, but if you smell something like road kill or sulfur, that's evil. Last November, my son was in the attic and saw a shadowy figure that came at him, and he ran downstairs and smelled sulfur. These things happen all of the time."
For lighter fare, mark your calendars for Oct. 24 -- when the society presents Oktoberfest at the Olcott Fire Hall, featuring the Frankfurters. Authentic German food will be served, and a basket raffle, silent auction and 5 0/5 0 split will be offered. Tickets are $25 presale and may be purchased at Peterson's Drugs or First Niagara Bank in Newfane, or by calling Joanne at 434-2316 or Rosemary at 433-3065.
"This was so successful last year, that we booked the Frankfurters that day for this year's Oktoberfest," said society member Rosemary Miller. "I'm quite sure we'll have a lot of people back this year who were here last year."
Candlelight tours with a Civil War re-enactment theme will be offered from 7 to 10:30 p.m. Nov. 13 and 14 at the Van Horn Mansion. Visitors are once again encouraged to bring their cameras.
"One of the Van Horns was wounded in the Civil War, and the family was known to be anti-slavery," Updegraph said. "There is a tunnel in the mansion basement that is sealed up now, but it may have been part of the Underground Railroad because it led to the grist mill across the street on the creek. We're still looking for proof [that it was involved]."
On Dec. 5, the society plans a "Carol Sing" at 1 p.m. at the Van Horn Mansion. Visitors will enjoy light refreshments and Christmas music. Admission fee is a nonperishable food item for the Newfane Food Pantry.
The stately Van Horn Mansion is open for tours from 2 to 4 p.m. every Sunday except holidays. Admission is by donation. The mansion also is available for rent for receptions. For more information, call 778-7197.
Society President Kevin Luckman said these fund-raisers -- as well as grant money -- help the society return the mansion back to the time of the Victorian era.
Grants -- including those most recently obtained through the Grigg Lewis Foundation -- also have aided restoration work to the mansion and carriage house, Luckman said.
"We just refinished the hardwood floors," he said. "We're trying to spruce it up and make it look like it did 100 years ago."