Maple Leaf questions and answers
This year’s Maple Leaf Festival will be here fast — Oct. 17-18. Maple Leaf Committee Chairman Annie France answers some questions.
Q. Are there any new features for this year's Maple Leaf Festival?
A. We have a new tram this year in an effort to find a more accessible, easier to navigate and “green” alternative to the bigger tractor-drawn trams. These are easier to get in and out of and will be available to other nonprofits and groups in the area through a request program. Also there will be music on the campus of Baker near Rice Auditorium managed by Ray James, director of bands.
Q. Will there be as many arts and crafts booths this year and will they be in the usual places?
A. Yes, we have more than 300 booths this year and are sold out. All are in the usual places and many of our long-term vendors are back again, mixed with many new and interesting crafts.
Q. Will Saturday's grand parade continue with the new route of north on Sixth Street, and what has been the opinion of that route?
A. Yes, the parade route will remain on Sixth Street. The current updated streetscape in downtown at Eighth and High streets makes it impossible to have booths and a parade in any safe fashion. The opinion has been both positive and negative about this route and we encourage residents and attendees to comment and suggest alternatives at any of our meetings. Many comment on how much easier it is to get a good seat to view the parade without standing inside of a booth or blocking booth traffic. We've also had very positive response from visitors who don't come for the parade - they enjoy being able to shop during the parade whereas the previous route would have required that booths remain closed during the parade.
Q. Shuttles to and from the festival have gained in popularity over the years. Will the park-to-ride spots at Baldwin High School and Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center continue or are there any changes?
A. No changes — they will continue to operate an hour before and after the booths open and close and will take visitors to the remote sites and back to Chapel and Sixth streets.
Q. What are your best tips for enjoying the festival's two-day run?
A. We're expecting brilliant weather so dress in layers and bring sunglasses. Don't bring your pets — they're not allowed in the festival and it's unfair and inhumane to leave them in a car. The interior of a car will be hotter by at least 10 degrees than the outside regardless of whether it's parked in shade or not. Wear shoes that you're comfortable walking in and drink lots of water — the October sunshine is deceiving and many leave with a sunburn if they aren't properly dressed or prepared for it. Most importantly, bring a sense of adventure and your Christmas shopping list — there will be great buys and lots of fun activities for the whole family.