Ready or not, it’s Maple Leaf
Everyone in Baldwin City knows what time it is. It's the third full weekend in October. That means Maple Leaf Festival time. It happens every year. Well, at least for the last 48. It hadn't hit me before, but the festival is older than me ... but not by much.
It's always a busy time of the year and this year has been no exception. After being in downtown Baldwin for the past seven years, it has become one of my favorite fall festivities to watch the festival come together.
The first sign was last Monday when city crews hoisted the orange Maple Leaf banner across High Street on the west side of Eighth Street. Yes, it was Maple Leaf time again. Of course, I certainly had it in the back of my mind. The Signal annually does a special Maple Leaf Festival section and that was weighing heavy on my thoughts.
After getting last week's regular issue out on Wednesday, it was time to jump feet first into the Maple Leaf tab ... again. This year's is the biggest ever at 24 pages and is included in this week's issue of the Signal. It was a struggle, but we made it.
Poor Jimmy Gillispie hadn't experienced it or anything else like it before. Despite me telling him for weeks it was coming and to get ready, the first-year reporter had no clue what it would mean. Frantic phone calls, e-mails and visits are just as annual as the falling leaves for information for the tab. It's always hair-pulling time, but this year it was more so with more pages and changes in the Maple Leaf Festival committee, most notably the absence of long-time Maple Leaf public relations person Star Novak. I missed you, Star, very much. Believe me.
It was the usual craziness, but poor Jimmy about lost it the first time I went into my annual rendition of "It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Maple Leaf," sung to the tune of the Christmas song much better known. Of course, it was off key. It is another of those first signs -- and that is that my mind is Maple Leaf mush.
But, we made it, again, and we hope you enjoy this year's tab. It's the best ever. I finished it off Monday afternoon and switched gears into regular issue mode.
When I came into the office Tuesday morning, I told office manager Karen Wooge that I was disappointed. None of the Maple Leaf transformations had started to take place.
Boy, that didn't last long. About an hour later, the crew showed up and put the country music tent out between the post office and the lumberyard. They had it pitched before we knew it. Then, the tent went up about a block north at Baker.
At about noon Tuesday, the first carnival truck arrived. It was followed by many more and that parade has been going on for two days. The carnival can have so many more rides now that it's not stuck in front of the library.
On Wednesday, there were more signs. The trash cans distributed by city crews began to show up on corners and elsewhere in downtown Baldwin. The road barricades also began showing up at key locations. They aren't up yet, but they will be.
Yes, indeed, it is beginning to look a lot like Maple Leaf, everywhere you go.
The transformation will continue the rest of the week. Another locked-in moment is when the men of Annunciation Catholic Church erect the granddaddy of all food booths between City Hall and Baldwin State Bank. The loads of folding chairs and tables will follow as Baldwin becomes one giant out-door restaurant.
I haven't seen it yet -- I've been locked in the Signal office all day Wednesday, as usual -- but I know a relatively new sign of the impending festival will be popping up. Those are the orange "No Parking by Temporary Order of Police" signs. Oh, boy.
But, there is one sign that hasn't made it quite yet and it has people worried. Will the maple tree leaves be changed to their brilliant autumn finest in time for the festival? I don't know, but I think they'll be fine.
I've become quite the maple leaf watcher over the years. They start slow, with what I've come to call the "graying temples." That's a few branches here and there that are in full color, while the rest of the tree is not. That's happening.
There are also some "count on 'em" trees that have turned. Most notably, that's the maple tree just outside the American Legion Hall downtown. There are others around town and there's a new one.
The autumn blaze maple planted just north of the Baldwin City Public Library Tuesday in honor of the late Katharine Kelley is in full color. It's a new sign, and a good sign, that Maple Leaf Festival time is here.