The Origins of Ontario's Premier Fall Festival
The Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival, running since 1976, was formed by members of the Board of Trade. With the help of the Elmira
Syrup Festival and the New Hamburg Quilt Auction, the new festival was formed
using the best of these two festivals and implementing their local flavour. The
festival was formed to promote the town of Wellesley, as well as its major
businesses, A.W. Jantzi & Sons Ltd (Wellesley Brand Apple Products) and the J.M.
Schneider Cheese Factory. Relying on all volunteer workers, the festival has
grown to be one of Waterloo County's most popular events.
With the help of local service clubs, organizations and churches, several booths are operated on the street mall with all profits going to the festival committee for distribution: the Board of Trade runs a pancake and sausage breakfast, the Lions Club sells sausage on a bun, the Optimists run a wet booth with schnitzel on a bun, the Lutheran churches sell apple dumplings, and Mennonite churches sell apple fritters. We also serve a smorgasbord dinner serving Waterloo County home cooking, such as pigtails, spareribs, sauerkraut, and roast beef. Free tours to specialty farms and the A.W. Jantzi Cider Mill, with free samples of food and drink available at the cider mill. We draw over 100 competitors to our Horseshoe tournament, with many of the top players from Canada and the United States competing. We provide ongoing street entertainment using talent from the surrounding area. Our quilt auction attracts buyers from as far away as the USA. All quilts are donated by local churches and senior citizen groups. Craft demonstrations include quilting, soap making, bonsai tree making and apple crafts. Our vendors market is a main attraction for its crafts and foods. When the weather cooperates, our antique car and tractor display and parade draws over 100 vehicles for our visitors. And the regatta of remote-control boats runs all day long on the Wellesley pond.
The proceeds from the festival are used for major projects within the village of Wellesley. Funds have been used for building an arena, buying parkland, building a ball diamond and soccer field, paving the parking lots at the arena and community centre, uptown beautification through proper curbing and brick sidewalks, buying equipment for the fire department, renovating the community centre with a new kitchen and air conditioning, renovating the arena and installing new flooring in the dressing rooms.