An explosion is set for Baldwin City.
However, it’ll be in a good sense of the word as the Douglas County community’s population swells, seemingly almost like there’s been a detonation.
“We anticipate attendance of nearly 40,000 people for this year’s Maple Leaf Festival,” clarified Joanna Vesecky, event chairman.
While Baldwin City has about 4,000 residents, the 56th annual celebration this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 19-20, could draw ten times that many folks to participate in the wide variety of activities scheduled.
“Of course, it depends on the weather,” admitted Vesecky, an enthusiastic worker for the event along with her mother-in-law, Sharon Vesecky, and literally hundreds of others in the community and beyond.
“Starting in 1958, the Maple Leaf Festival began as a community event inspired by Dr. Ivan Boyd, a biology professor at Baker University,” Vesecky said.
“Dr. Boyd noted that the third weekend of October was the optimum time to view the changing colors of the Maple tree leaves in the area, and the perfect time to celebrate the successful harvest. That’s when the Maple Leaf Festival began, and the celebration has continued, and been growing ever since,” according to Vesecky.
Now, there’s something for everybody going on in the jam-filled schedule, kicking off Friday with a full carnival featuring a Ferris-wheel and tilt-a-whirl.
Carnival attractions continue on Saturday and Sunday, 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, and at the grade school, with free country music being played on a regular schedule.
“More than 300 exhibits including about two dozen food vendors providing a variety of delights are already planning to participate,” Vesecky informed.
Always a major attraction is the Quilt Show at the Baldwin Intermediate Center, west of town on Highway 56.
“We will have new and old quilts on display. Anybody who has a quilt they’d like to show is welcome to bring it by Quilters Paradice at Baldwin City, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 ‘til 2. We expect more than 100 quilts to be on display,” Vesecky said.
Of course, the parade Saturday morning has to be a festival highlight, with the kiddie parade kicking off at 10:45.
“The parade is what everybody talks about most, and we are expecting more entries than ever, with some from a long ways off. Everybody is welcome to come participate, but no candy or treats can be distributed from entries,” Vesecky noted.
There’ll be a 5K-Run Saturday morning at the golf course. Historical tours of the Baldwin City area are to feature the Vinland community and the Black Jack Battlefield and cabin.
Midland Railway plans train rides from the historic Santa Fe Depot on West High Street all three days. There’ll also be Night Train of Terrors with three runs both Friday and Saturday evenings.
“Many high school graduating classes plan their reunions this weekend, so it’s traditionally a homecoming event as well,” Vesecky pointed out.
However, she emphasized, “This is a strictly a volunteer, non-profit activity. The committee meets throughout the year getting organized, and then it all comes together with everybody helping.
“A successful festival allows us to fund scholarships, support local charities and community organizations,” commented Vesecky, in welcoming everyone to attend.
“Highway 56 is now open as a most convenient route from Lawrence to Baldwin City. Only service dogs with paperwork are allowed, and no other pets are permitted,” Vesecky noted.
Additional details are available at www.mapleleaffestival.com.