Archive for Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ho, ho, ho, time for Maple Leaf Festival cheer again

October 19, 2006

In case you didn't know, this is the third week in October. This year, the first full weekend in October also falls now. We all know what that means -- Maple Leaf Festival.

Yes, it's that time again. It's always interesting to watch the whole festival unfold piece by piece. Sure enough, Monday, Oct. 2, the Maple Leaf Festival banner was hung by the city crew on High Street at Eighth. It screamed, let the games begin.

They did. The Signal staff was already in Maple Leaf mode, tracking down information, stories, photos, etc., etc. for the annual Maple Leaf Festival special edition. It's in this week's issue and we hope you enjoy it. As always, it was a real thrill to pull off, but I won't go there.

In the last two weeks, more signs of the impending festival began to pop up, including no parking and the all-important "restroom" signs. Street barricades started showing up. The carnies, toting the trailers and trucks full of carnival gear arrived Monday. The carnies got an early start Tuesday this year and the carnival is already starting to take shape.

One of the biggest signs happened today when the gigantic country music tent started to unfold, then rise, next to the post office. Oh, my, we're getting there.

The MLF committee members -- bless their hearts, they're the backbone of this whole endeavor -- started marking booth areas Wednesday afternoon. Other chores followed.

It will get busier today with the Annunciation Catholic Church's mammoth food booth being constructed. Others will be right behind them. On Friday, it will get chaotic with booths of all types and forms taking shape.

This is Maple Leaf.

Of course, there's always talk of the weather and the leaves, which this thing is supposed to be all about, but really isn't. In all my years of attending, working and covering the festival, I've never heard a visitor mention the leaves. They want to know where the turkey legs are this year.

But, lets stop in our frantic festival frenzy just for a minute to appreciate and enjoy the fabulous fall foliage. You know, sometimes we take it for granted. We shouldn't.

That became abundantly clear to me this past weekend with a trip to Tulsa for my best friend's wedding. Coming out of Baldwin and heading south on U.S. 59, it was good to see how the leaves were looking. Unlike the past few years, I really think the colors are going to be at their peak for the festival this year. Of course, that is if they stay on the trees. Seems to me they're falling faster than usual. Hopefully, we'll have enough left come Saturday and Sunday.

But, what struck me on the drive to and from Oklahoma was the lack of color. Seemed to me, once south past Garnett or so, the fabulous fall foliage vanished and there was nothing left but ugly brown, some still green and a few off-color yellow trees. It was ugly.

It was so nice to return after we enjoyed a wonderful wedding to see the gorgeous trees once again, not the nasty Oklahoma and southern Kansas blandness. Yes, folks, enjoy the colors. Don't take them for granted. Everyone isn't as blessed as us.

But, then again, is the aftermath of the breath-taking beauty -- leaf disposal. I found it ironic that it was a topic at this week's city council meeting as we head into our celebrate the leaf bash.

To burn or not to burn, to bag or to mulch? Those are the questions once again. Burning doesn't bother me, but I do understand concerns. Bagging? No way. Give me a mower and a load of leaves and I'll go to town.

No, I have a feeling we're going to be hearing about this topic for a while. It's long-standing Baldwin City tradition to burn leaves. Does that make it right? I don't know. Like I said, it doesn't bother me. There's already talk of regulating burning. Again, I don't know, but it seems to me like if you restrict burning to only a few days, the smoke would be even worse. And, what if it rains, I'm out of town or whatever?

This one will be interesting to watch. But, hey, it's time to celebrate the leaf, not burn it. Enjoy this wild weekend as it unfolds and we'll figure the burning issue out later.

Happy Maple Leaf to all and to all a good night. Well, at least when it's over.

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