45th Maple Leaf Festival successful
Despite the rain Friday night, the Maple Leaf Festival was anything but a wash out.
"The sun came out and so did the people and it was wonderful," Sharole Prahl, festival committee chair, said.
Saturday and Sunday saw the return of thousands of people to the 45th annual Maple Leaf Festival. Prahl said it was hard to judge just how many people turned out for the weekend festival.
"It didn't seem to be as large a crowd as last year," she said, "but it was a nice sized crowd. That's encouraging for us."
It wasn't unusual to find more than a few people who drove quite a ways to the festival. Billie Evans made the 90-mile trip with her mother, Anita Evans, from St. George, near Manhattan, to browse the craft booths.
"We try to hit all of the local craft shows in Manhattan," Billie Evans said.
It had been about 10 years since Evans last Maple Leaf Festival excursion, and she said she was surprised at how it had changed.
"It's huge," she said. "I couldn't believe how it's grown."
Mark Ludorf, who made the trip from Nacogdoches, Texas, just for the festival, said he also couldn't believe how much it has grown.
"It's huge compared to the last time I was here," Ludorf, a former Kansas University student, said.
Ludorf, who made the trip from Texas with his sons, Austin and Nicholas, said one of the reasons he returned was to see the changing of the leaves.
"We have two colors of leaves in Texas green and brown," he said. "So we came to see the leaves."
He said it was a little disappointing to see a majority of the area's leaves still green in color, but the festival was still worth the trip.
St. Louis resident Deborah Alani and her family made this year's festival a sort of family reunion. Alani made the festival rounds with 20 members of her family, including her sister, Baldwin resident Tammy Holmes.
She said the festival had grown since her last visit, including the parade.
"I'm impressed with how many bands were in the parade," Alani said.
The day's fun, she said, was enhanced by the sunshine and mild temperatures.
"The weather's just been nice."
Festival emcee Ron Nelson said he thought everyone seemed to have a good time this year.
"There was lots of fun," Nelson said. "Lots of people."
He said one thing that helps make the festival enjoyable are the polite and courteous crowds of people.
"The thing that impresses me with the festival is that there are so many honest people," he said.
Everything from cash, checkbooks and other valuable lost items were turned in, he said.
Prahl said many vendors also commented on the courteousness of the crowds.
"One vendor said it was the nicest festival he attended," she said.
Prahl thought that added to the success of the festival.
"I think this is just a really nice family atmosphere," she said. "We hope to continue to keep the festival a truly friendly and welcoming place for everyone."