Maple Leaf Festival celebrates autumn
October event always draws thousands
The changing of the leaves from lush greens to brilliant reds, yellows and oranges signals more to Baldwin City than just the coming of fall.
The color of the fall foliage also marks the time for the annual Maple Leaf Festival.
The festival, which began 44 years ago to celebrate fall and the changing colors of the maple leaf, is set for Oct. 20 and 21.
Maple Leaf Festival publicity chair Star Novak said the weekend event, which draws 25,000 to 35,000 people each year, offers a number of crafts, foods and activities for all ages of festival-goers.
"We feel strongly that this is a family and community festival," Novak said. "That's what we want to show everybody."
On Oct. 20, the festival features a large parade. This year's theme is 2001: A Maple Leaf Odyssey.
Horses, vintage cars, floats and area high school and college marching bands make up a majority of the parade, Novak said.
But the parade is just a small part of the weekend's festivities.
The state's oldest quilt show will be featured as well as more than 200 arts and crafts booths, with items such as paintings, fine arts and wood crafts.
"There's quite a variety of booths. They really run the gamut as far as variety," Novak said. "And the quality of crafts are high."
A number of food booths also line the streets.
"Just about any fair-type of food will be here that weekend," Novak said. "It's a lot of local homemade food like turkey legs, buffalo burgers, kettle corn, caramel apples. There's just a plethora of food to tickle the taste buds."
There are several entertainment opportunities throughout the weekend as well.
"'The Ballad of Black Jack' is a historical musical that was a festival staple for many years," she said. "It's just now coming back after a hiatus."
"The Ballad of Black Jack" is based on the Battle of Black Jack that took place during the Civil War era just east of Baldwin.
She said there will also be an old-fashioned melodrama as well as live country, bluegrass and gospel music played continuously throughout the weekend.
The Maple Leaf Festival also offers activities that will keep the children entertained.
"There's the Kids' Zone that will have face painting, a petting zoo, an obstacle course, and clowns," Novak said.
Regular Baldwin attractions such as the Midland Railway and Baker University, which has a number of buildings on the National Register of Historic Places will be open that weekend for tours, Novak said.
Novak said many people come back to the festival year after year.
"A lot of people are from the surrounding areas who came here as kids and are now bringing their kids back," she said.
People return because of the small-town atmosphere.
"It's a real nice slice of small-town Americana," Novak said. "It likens to a simple time of life, when the world was not quite as complicated as it is now."
For more information about the Maple Leaf Festival call (785) 594-7564 or go online to www.baldwin-city.com.