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An April 24 blaze consumes much of the equipment used for the Apple Harvest Festival.

BURLINGTON — The combination of a devastating fire and the COVID-19 pandemic has canceled October’s Apple Butter Festival.

Burlington United Methodist Family Services announced last week that the 47th festival, scheduled for the 1st weekend in October, will not occur this year.

Social-distancing concerns were one factor, Auxiliary President Cindy Clark said, but just as important was the April 24 fire on the children’s home campus that destroyed the building where festival equipment was stored.

 The decision to cancel the festival was also caused in part by an April 24 fire that ravaged a building on the agency’s campus.

“We lost a one-of-a-kind apple peeler, copper kettles, electric stirrers, all of our jars,” Development Manager Cynthia Pyles told the Cumberland Times-News at the time. “It’s all gone.”

The early-morning fire burned so hot that it took out overhead phone lines and melted equipment used to make apple butter for the festival.

The fire was called in around 1 a.m. and the building at the back of the campus was engulfed by the time the Burlington fire company arrived.

“The kettles got so hot that it actually burned the soot off the outside of the kettles,” said Ted Heckert, who sits on the home’s auxiliary board. “All the temper is gone out of them. The silver bottoms were probably melted.”

Among the losses Heckert listed were 10 50-gallon kettles and 3 75-gallon ones along with automatic stirrers for the big kettles.

Also lost: an antique apple peeler that not only saved a lot of time, but also was a favorite of festival-goers.

Heckert said an Internet search turned up 1 like it — “in a museum in New York,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t think we can get it.”

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