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Newfane festival is a celebration of the apple harvest

NEWFANE – Evenings are growing crisp with hints of autumn, and farm stands are boasting baskets of delicious red apples, which means it’s time for the annual Apple Harvest Festival.

The free festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. nest Sunday on the museum grounds of the Town of Newfane Historical Society, at West Creek and Ide roads.

The event features something for every member of the family, from chicken chowder to music, to tours of old-time buildings.

And volunteers have been hard at work for the past year cleaning up a 1920s loom from the Lockport Felt Mill and hope to have it up and running in time for the festival.

“That old felt mill was such a large part of Newfane and the beginnings of the town,” said Bill Neidlinger, a member of the Historical Society who has been working on the loom. “It was water-powered and converted to electricity. That mill is probably the reason Newfane’s here today.

“A lot of people here worked there, and we’ve been lucky to find some people who understand the loom to help us,” he added. “We’ve been cleaning it up and had the motor taken off to clean and just reattached it. Now we’re waiting to get everyone together so we can try weaving.”

The steel loom is 21 feet long and five to six feet wide. It stands six feet tall. It was designed by the Crompton and Knowles Co. and was specifically left for the Historical Society when the business moved to Mississippi in the mid-1980s, Neidlinger said. It’s been stored in a barn on the museum grounds.

“Sam Clogeston, one of the engineers that worked at the mill towards the end of its being here, has been helping with this,” he said. “We also have Pat Fralick, who was a weaver there, as well as Chuck Manhardt, Kevin Luckman and Jean Weaver, who was also a weaver for that company.”

The loom was used to make the backing for the felt the company made, Neidlinger said. Neidlinger has also helped oversee the resurrection of the printing press at the site.

The festival also will feature other displays and demonstrations throughout the grounds, and volunteers invite festivalgoers to visit the Yarb House, Hausman “What’s It” Building, one-room schoolhouse, Burt Post Office, McCoy Barbershop and Manhardt Power Building.

A blacksmith will be plying his trade, and visitors can see a large collection of farm machinery, as well as a Civil War encampment.

WLVL Radio will broadcast live from noon to 3 p.m.; the Hot Country Liners will dance at 12:30; and the Higher Mountain Blue Grass Band will perform from 1 to 3 in the gazebo.

Patrons are encouraged to bring their own containers if they are taking home any of Art Gladow’s Famous Chicken Chowder, while beef-on-weck, hot dogs, sausage, baby ribs, salt potatoes and other fair food will be sold as well. Save room for apple cake and apple butter.

The Historical Society also operates the Van Horn Mansion at 2165 Lockport-Olcott Road, which is open for tours from 1 to 4 p.m. that day.

Neidlinger reminds teachers that the museum grounds are always open for scheduled tours throughout the school year, and volunteers are eager to offer demonstrations. For more information, contact him at 697-2688.