Continuing a tradition first established in 1967, Apple Butter Makin' Days gets underway on the historic Mt Vernon Square today. In large copper kettles, most of which are more than a century old, the old-fashioned process of making apple butter will begin before dawn each day. The first step is to place previously peeled apples into the kettles with water. Then the twelve hour cooking process over open fires with frequent stirring with long, wooden paddles to prevent sticking or burning. Toward the end of the cooking time, sugar and spices are added. By the middle of the afternoon, the apple butter will be poured into jars, which are sealed.

Apple butter - which despite the name contains no butter - dates back to the Middle Ages when it was first made as a way to preserve apples. Thicker than applesauce, the concoction came to the New World with the early settlers and from there traveled to the Ozark region with the pioneers.

Since apple orchards were once very common in portions of the Ozarks, apple butter became an autumn favorite, one that sweetened an often basic menu.

The 53rd annual Apple Butter Makin' Days offers a chance to watch the process. The sale of apple butter funds numerous charitable products each year.

The event draws large crowds annually, close to 90,000.

Hundreds of booths will line the square in Mt Vernon. The annual parade will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday with a route that begins east on Sloan, north on Hickory and then travel around the courthouse square, ending at Gibbs Park at Main and Market Streets. The parade will feature many bands, floats, antique cars, and horses.

Various activities will take place throughout the three-day event. Kids' activities include a bubble gum blowing contest, terrapin race, pet parade, Kidzone, a kids' pedal tractor pull,White Tiger Discovery area, and an apple pie eating contest. Family friendly events for all ages include a husband calling contest, live music in many types, quilt show, and weenie dog races. An Apple Butter Queen will be crowned.

The Lawrence County Historical Society Museum will be open and so will the Adamson Cabin.

The 27th Annual Annual Car Show will be in Spirit of '76 Park.

Vendors will offer a variety of fair type food favorites including turkey legs, funnel cakes,

Hours for the three day festival are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and from 9 a.m. through 4 p.m. on Sunday. Apple butter making starts before dawn daily.

Don't miss one of the largest annual fall events in the region - the 53rd annual Apple Butter Makin' Days, centered around and near the historic square in Mt Vernon.