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The Apple ‘n Arts Festival will celebrate its 40th anniversary in October

Sept. 17 – At age 7, Casey Schroeder of Murrysville already had a keen eye for economics.

“He was part of the baking contest at the Delmont Apple and Arts Festival, and he wanted to know why the adults got paid more for winning than the kids,” said Schroeder’s grandmother, Angela Whorfsman.

Schroeder, now 16, and his older brother Travis have become veterans of the roasting competition at the annual festival, which will celebrate its 40th anniversary Oct. 1-2 at Shields Farm in Delmont.

From the century-old apple press creating thousands of gallons of fresh cider to the sweet faces at the Baby Apple Cheeks Contest — in which the Schraeder brothers were also former contestants — the festival brings a weekend of food, fun and music to the neighborhood.

Organizer Brandy Walters has been involved with the festival since she was younger than the Schrader family.

“I was always part of the Presbyterian church group, and we made apple butter on site in these big kettles that my family owned,” Walters said. “We used my grandmother’s recipe and I stood there stirring forever. Sometimes I was in charge of stirring it when it came out of the kettle.’

And although the festival is held late enough in the season not to compete with the region’s host of late summer and early fall festivals, the weather always makes the weather a bit anxious.

“Time is always an issue and finding enough volunteers becomes a struggle,” Walters said. “The Murrysville Alliance Church is helping us with parking as they have in the past, but they have also had to downsize due to a lack of volunteers.”

Festival organizers will eliminate off-site parking at Steel City Raceway, opting instead for the nearby Eastview Union Cemetery parking area.

“The members of the Delmont Vision Committee will help us with the parking there,” Walters said.

Festival organizers will bring Fab Four cover band Beatlemania to headline this year’s festival on Sunday afternoon. Saturday will feature performances by Christian rock band Fire Escape (10 a.m.), Keystone Contemporary Ballet (2 p.m.) and Marshele Bradford Exchange (3 p.m. and 5 p.m.) along with Wild World of Animals (4:00 p.m.).

Sunday will feature a non-denominational church service from 11 a.m., Wild Animal World at noon and Beatlemania Magic from 3-5 p.m.

There will be plenty of children’s activities throughout the festival, including a petting zoo, train rides, apple slingshot and more.

As for the Schroeder brothers, they still haven’t settled on a recipe for this year’s baking competition.

“I really like taking all these random things, throwing them together and it comes out a chocolate chip cookie or an apple pie,” Casey said.

His brother agreed. “I don’t cook as often as Casey, but it’s a lot of fun,” Travis said. “It’s a challenge, almost like building a puzzle. And if you do it right, you have a tasty treat and you can show it to other people.”

This challenge has led to numerous awards for the couple over the years. Travis was sitting in his grandmother’s kitchen looking at old race photos.

“Oh wow, I won $50 this year,” he said, pointing to a photo.

Almost immediately, sibling rivalry bubbled to the surface.

“Yes. But I won $100 this year,” Casey said over his shoulder.

Patrick Varin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick by email at [email protected] or via Twitter.