Changes are in store for Maple Leaf Festival’s 50th
It's the golden year for the Maple Leaf Festival.
That means a few new changes have been made to the festival that continues to grow every year. Those include anniversary buttons, tree seedlings to purchase, a new emcee and a Friday night fireworks show.
"There will be a few new things this year," said Donna Curran, Maple Leaf Festival committee chairperson. "One of those is, of course, the fireworks on Friday night. We are also having a 50th anniversary booth. There will also be maple tree seeds attached with the history of maple trees. We tried to get trees, but the trees don't go dormant until November, so that didn't work."
The 50th Maple Leaf Festival will kick off at 6 p.m. Friday at the ball fields adjacent to Baldwin High School. First-year emcee Marion Constantinescu, along with music, will entertain the crowd until the fireworks begin at 7:30 p.m.
Baker University will be providing cookies and refreshments at the event. Although Baldwin High School will be playing a road football game that night, Curran is hopeful for a large crowd.
"Hopefully, we will have lots of people there," Curran said. "I know there is an away football game that night. We can't do anything about that, but the people who do come out will enjoy it. We will mostly have gold, yellow, orange, red and a hint of blue. It's all maple leaf colors."
The MLF committee purchased its fireworks at the same time as the Community Fireworks Display group. Friday's show will be about half as long as the Fourth of July show, according to Curran.
Of course, the main festival will begin Saturday morning with crafts, food and the annual parade. One of the booths will be a 50th anniversary booth, located at Eighth and High streets.
Reece and Nichols Reality is working the booth, along with members of the Worden United Methodist Church. Reece and Nichols will be providing historical pamphlets. There will also be 50th anniversary buttons and maple tree seeds, with a history of maple trees, to purchase.
"It's just a one time thing right now for the 50th anniversary," Curran said.
The members of the Worden church will be volunteering to raise money for its youth mission trips.
"They came on to help us man the booth, because we can't do that with everything else we have to do," Curran said.
Another addition to the festival will be the new emcee. Constantinescu will replace Bill Gray and Knute Pittenger, who are unable to emcee the event this year for different reasons.
Curran said Constantinescu won't have to talk as much as other emcees have, because the MLF committee purchased a license to play music during the festival.
"We have a new emcee this year," Curran said. "I'm sure he will do a wonderful job. He is really excited about it. The thing that will be different is he is not going to talk all of the time. We will be playing '50s music most of the time, but he will come on every 30 or 45 minutes to announce something or give something away."
Two other changes to the festival's golden year are a second music area and a slightly tweaked tram route.
The trams will no longer travel down High Street. After picking up riders at the corner of Eighth and Grove streets, the trams will travel east on Grove to Fifth Street and then continue on its normal path to Dearborn Street and back to Eighth.
There will also be a second music area. The country music tent will still be in its usual spot next to the post office, but there will be an alternative music arena inside the Lumberyard Arts Center. Several local artists are scheduled to perform, such as Jim Hartman and Glen Stansberry.
For more information on the festival, go to its Web site, www.mapleleaffestival.com.