“An explosion is set for Baldwin City.”
However, it’ll be in a good sense of the word. The Douglas County community’s population swells, seemingly almost like there’s been a detonation.
Coordinators are expecting attendance of nearly 40,000 people for this year’s Maple Leaf Festival.
Baldwin City has about 4,000 residents. Yet, the 62nd annual celebration Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 19th and 20th, could draw ten times that many for scheduled activities.
“Of course, it depends on the weather,” planners admitted.
Starting in 1958, the Maple Leaf Festival began as a community event inspired by Dr. Ivan Boyd, Baker University biology professor.
“Actually, Dr. Boyd, Dr. Charles Dounda, C.R. Whitley, Ralph Sellmyer and a Mr. Horn are credited for initiating the festival,” said Michael Curran.
“They determined the third weekend of October was the optimum time to view changing colors of maple tree leaves. Plus, the perfect time to celebrate the successful harvest,” explained Curran, event promoter more than six decades later.
“That’s how the Maple Leaf Festival began, and the celebration has continued, and been growing ever since,” Curran added.
“Now, there’s something for everybody going on in the jam-filled schedule, kicking off Friday with a full carnival,” said Jeannette Blackmar.
“Carnival attractions continue on Saturday and Sunday,” verified Blackmar of the Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce. “Yet there are so many more features that it’s almost impossible to favor one over another.”
Arts and crafts booths are open both days downtown, with free country music being played on a regular schedule.
About 300 exhibits including nearly two dozen food vendors providing a variety of delights are already planning to participate.
Always a major attraction is the Quilt Show at the Baldwin Intermediate Center, west of town on Highway 56.
Of course, the parade Saturday morning has to be a festival highlight, with the kiddie parade kicking off at 10:45.
“Everybody is welcome to come participate, but no candy or treats can be distributed from entries,” Blackmar noted.
There’ll be a 5K-Run, one-mile walk, and a one-mile kid’s run Saturday morning at the golf course.
Historical tours of the Baldwin City area are to feature the Black Jack Battlefield and cabin as well as the Baker Old Castle and Quayle Bible exhibit.
“A new addition to the 62nd festival is the Maple Leaf History Exhibit,” Blackmar announced. “It’ll be located in the Lumberyard Arts Center on the corner of 8th and High.”
Many high school graduating classes plan their reunions this weekend, so it’s traditionally a homecoming event as well.
“As in years past, the festival will feature live music in the Music Tent both Saturday and Sunday,” Blackmar said.
A non-competitive fitness walk has again been scheduled on Sunday from 10 o’clock to 5 o’clock.
“This is a volunteer, non-profit activity,” Curran pointed out. “The committee meets throughout the year getting organized, and then it all comes together with everybody helping.”
“A successful festival allows the committee to fund scholarships, and support local charities and community organizations,” Curran verified.
Details are available at www.mapleleaffestival.com.