MT. PISGAH - The pumpkins weren't the only ones wearing grins Saturday at Mt. Pisgah State Park.

The Friends organization at the park held its annual Apple Butter Day celebration, and children and adults alike were all smiles as they took part in the fall fun and festivities.

This year for the first time, those attending the festival in West Burlington Township could walk into a pumpkin patch in the day use area of the park, and pick out their own pumpkin. Then, they could lug it back to a pumpkin carving area.

"It's nice for kids to be able to pick their pumpkin out of the patch," said park manager Ken Gwin. "It gives them a different outdoor experience."

Lori Holton and her daughter, Elizabeth Holton, 7, came from Elmira, N.Y. to the festival. They were selecting a pumpkin, and were among the hundreds of people attending.

"It's pretty cool," Lori said. "She's having fun."

Gwin said the pumpkins were medium-sized this year, adding that the dry weather didn't allow them to grow to a large size this summer.

By the afternoon, the pumpkin patch seemed pretty well picked-over, though several nice ones were left over in the field. Bright orange, they looked like hot air balloons ready to lift off.

Gwin was happy with the sunny skies and nice weather, considering the fact that the morning started off at 20 degrees at 8 a.m. But it had warmed up to more comfortable, though brisk, weather by the afternoon.

Wagon rides were another activity visitors could enjoy.

This year, the park used a tractor instead of horses to pull the trailer.

Gwin said this allowed for a longer ride.

"Horses get tired, the tractor doesn't," he commented.

He noted that the free event also featured handcrafted ice cream and dairy butter, in addition to the apple butter. There was also bean soup, a wienie roast, a cider press, rag doll making, and music by "Double Take."

Dale Huffman and Carmen Venezia were making apple butter in a large kettle, the smoke rising in the air.

They noted that it had to be cooked a long time. They said the apple butter making began at 4 a.m. and was scheduled to be finished at 1 p.m.

It had to be continually stirred to avoid burning.

And stir they did.

Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: