A crowd pleaser
Weather contributes to successful festival
Even though temperatures were in the 80s this past weekend, Angela Juno attended this year's Maple Leaf Festival thinking about Christmas.
"I went to the festival knowing I could get Christmas gifts," she said, "but I had no idea what to get."
But it didn't take long for Juno, who attended her first Maple Leaf Festival ever Saturday, to find several gifts for friends and family members.
"I got at least a fourth of my Christmas shopping done," she said.
Juno said the festival was worth the trip from Topeka.
"I really enjoyed going around to the different booths," she said. "I was impressed by the craftsmanship. There were high quality items but definitely with a mid-western flavor."
Juno wasn't the only one taking advantage of the more than 400 craft booths, as well as the grand parade, quilt show, music tents, and other activities at this year's Maple Leaf Festival. Crowd attendance numbered in the tens of thousands, which festival committee member Stacy Cohen attributed to the sunny, warm weather.
"The weather was wonderful," Cohen said. "This is the best Maple Leaf weather we've had in years. If anything, the weather brought more people out."
Star Novak, festival committee member, agreed attendance was higher both Saturday and Sunday in part because of the weather.
"I'm just tickled pink at how Maple Leaf progressed this year," Novak said. "Mother Nature cooperated fully. I can't remember a warmer or more well attended Maple Leaf."
People came from all over to be part of the festival -- some for the first time, others making return trips.
Ruth Hargett, Lawrence, said she had been coming to the festival every year for more than a quarter of a century.
"We started coming about 27 years ago with my granddaughter," she said.
Pauli Knight, Jamestown, Mo., and Laura Coonce, Camdenton, Mo., returned to Baldwin Saturday after a 10-year absence from the festival. Both Knight and Coonce, who were originally from Baldwin, said they didn't plan to let another 10 years go by before attending another festival.
Juno said she planned not to make this trip her only Maple Leaf Festival.
"I definitely want to come back," she said.