The Gold That Grew
The Golden Delicious Apple is one of the most important apple varieties in all principle fruit growing areas of the world. But in 1912, the original tree on the farm of the Mullins family on Porter Creek had only local fame as Mullins Yellow Seedling. It was a precious sapling which bore big yellow apples such as no one had ever seen before. The gold that grew in Clay County in 1912, not far from the hamlet of Odessa, now enriches much of the fruit world. But the original source of the Gold, on an isolated Clay County hillside, is now dead and gone. Yes, it was Gold that grew on a tree. The offspring of that tree dropped wealth all over the United States, and marched in serried rows of green through Italy, Holland, Greece, Germany and other countries of Europe as well as South Africa. The Isle of Tasmania, New Zealand, China and India. But the beginning of that wealth was a seed that swelled, burst and forced life through Clay County soil into West Virginia sunlight.
Let's look at this variety. The tree is strong, especially the spur type. Golden Delicious is a heavy long-season bloomer, self-fruitful, extremely frost resistant, one of the earliest, heaviest of bearers. At three to five years it will pay its way. Properly thinned, it is probably the heaviest bearer of an accepted size fruit among all major varieties. It is the "Sweet-heart" of apple varieties among apple-growers. The fruit is beautiful to behold, without a competitor in the Golden field, in spite of all substitutes, golden Delicious is still the unchallenged star. Its harvest season is longer than Red Delicious and can be extended with Aiar and type improved cytokinins. It does not deteriorate as quickly either. It is delightfully fresh, with snap and zing in its flavor. It may be of highest quality processed or home cooked, always beautiful and flavorful, suitable for any use. It is the only apple folks with touchy stomachs can eat fresh.
After Stark Brothers acquired the Golden Delicious Tree, the firm propagated it by budding and grafting and advertised heavily. The world's largest orchard company, The American Fruit Growers Inc. of Pittsburgh and Wenatchee, invested in large scale planting of the new apple. The Wilder Silver Medal, the Nobel prize of the fruit world, was awarded to the Golden Delicious by the American Pomological Society.
The Gold that grew in Clay County on a tree, in 1912, now enriches much of the fruit world. But the original source of the Gold, the tree that made many a child happy after tasting the fruit bore, is now to be found only in history books.
This Festival today is in honor of the Golden tree. We hope you will return home with a fond memory of the Golden Delicious Apple and its birthplace, Clay County.
The Birth of the Golden Delicious Festival
The idea for starting a Golden Delicious Festival came from Agricultural Commissioner Gus Douglas, while speaking before the Clay Lions Club. Commissioner Douglas stated that something should be undertaken in Clay County to honor the Golden Delicious Apple. The Lions immediately with the assistance of Howard Knotts, Coordinator for the Department of Agriculture.
The Festival was chartered in December 1972, by members of the Clay Lions Club. Those signing the charter were Holly Hopkins, Robert Jackson, R. T. Sizemore Jr., William Dunn and Larry Hopkins.
The Festival Committee was very grateful for the help given them by the members of the Apple Blossoms Festivals in Winchester, Virginia. Also working closely with the Festival Committee was Paul Allen, Extension Agent and West Virginia University.
Many thousands of hours have been donated to the Festival by people too numerous to name; yet without them the Festival would not have succeeded. Special thanks goes to our Delegate Robert Reed, who worked so diligently in helping set up the Festival.
In 1975, sponsorship of the Golden Delicious Festival was taken over by V.F.W. Post 4419. Then in 1989 the Clay County Parks and Recreation took it over.
Since its birth, the Clay County Golden Delicious Festival has been a tradition that people look forward to each year. Native Clay Countains return home to meet old friends, make new acquaintances, and take part in the many activities planned throughout the four-day weekend event.
West Virginia State Fruit
The Golden Delicious Apple was designated as the official state fruit by Senate concurrent Resolution No. 7, adopted by the Legislature on February 20, 1995. This apple variety was discovered by Anderson Mullins in Clay County, West Virginia in 1905. The plain apple had been previously designated as the official state fruit by House Concurrent Resolution No. 56, adopted March 7, 1972.
Clay County, West Virginia
Golden Delicious History
...Graphic at left was used for the First Golden Delicious Festival in 1973.
These photos are from the Acree Orchard - courtesy of Mary Beth Taylor
Celebrating 100 years of Golden Delicious Apples
Celebrating our 40th Annual Festival