Maple Leaf blog: Festival crowd large once again
(Editor's note: The Signal will be having a Maple Leaf blog right here throughout the Maple Leaf Festival. Please join in by commenting below. We’d like to hear about what you’re doing at the festival and how you think it’s going. Also, send your pictures from the event to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll include them online.)
3:30 p.m. — Judging from the difficulty in getting around in her golf cart to various locations, Maple Leaf Committee Chair Annie France says this year's crowd is as big as ever, despite the lack of sun and cool temperatures. The Pressgrove family's sno-cone booth hasn't been doing banner business, but thankfully they're making up for it with popcorn sales. See the Maple Leaf story in Sunday's Lawrence Journal-World, online here and in Thursday's Signal.
1:53 p.m. — Food lines are slowly shrinking after the lunch rush slows down following the grand parade. However, the line for kettle corn, located on Seventh Street, remains long. The festival crowd remains steady, despite a cloudy, chilly day.
Noon — The Maple Leaf Festival grand parade lasted for about 45 minutes and even had a brief appearance by sunshine. For about 15 minutes, the sun came out and was welcomed by the huge crowd. There were more bands than expected and more horses than usual. There was a smattering of politicians, but nothing like last year's crew that was up for election.
10:35 a.m. — The sunshine didn't last too long. Clouds came rolling in about 30 minutes ago. It will be a little cool for the kiddie parade in 10 minutes and the grand parade 15 minutes later. Better bundle up.
9:30 a.m. — The first day of the 52nd annual Maple Leaf Festival at least had sunshine early. The crowds were starting to filter in to look at booths and try out the breakfast offerings at some of the food booths. Maple Leaf committee members said there were no problems through Friday night and they only had to move two cars Saturday morning. Of course the big item for the day is the grand parade at 11 a.m.
4:50 p.m. — It's official. The sound system downtown is in working order for the festival. Also, areas around downtown are starting to be blocked off and the vendors anxious to set up their booths are circling the area. It will get really crazy come 5 p.m., so unless you're working downtown, best to avoid it.
4:10 p.m. — The Lumberyard Arts Center got approval from Tina Rakes, zoning and codes director for the city, and will be able to show the progress that's been done on the project. Rakes inspected the building shortly before 4 p.m. and said it would be OK for 50 people at a time to tour the inside, according to Jim Niehoff, project manager.
3:45 p.m. — The flyers are on the cars parked downtown. They say "please move your cars by 5 p.m." That's when the 200 vendors for this year's festival will start constructing the 300 booths for the two-day event.
2:55 p.m. — Maple Leaf Festival Committee Member Bryan Butell and crew have been hard at repairing the sound system for downtown in time for Saturday's events. They're still at it and think they'll have it all in fine shape.
10:35 a.m. — Transformation of downtown Baldwin City into the wonderland known as the Maple Leaf Festival is in full swing this morning.
Every year, little by little, the area stair steps into the stage for 30,000 people to come through town. The first sign is the Maple Leaf banner, which was hung at Eighth and High streets. It’s usually done three weeks prior to the festival and was right on time.
Usually the next sign is the country music tent going up in the empty lot between the post office and lumberyard. But this year the carnival workers came in first, bringing the first load of rides and booths Tuesday morning. The music tent went up Tuesday afternoon.
Wednesday the booth locations were marked with chalk by the Maple Leaf committee. They were touched up Thursday after it started raining Wednesday. Another sure sign of the festival went up Thursday night. That’s the famed Annunciation Catholic Church food booth on Eighth Street.
City crews have also put the barricades out for all the streets. Today they were putting trash cans throughout the downtown area. Another staple of the festival have been coming in little by little – the porta-potties, an essential item, for sure.
High Street is now being marked for the booths that go there. All day there will be activity, as everything gets set up. At 5 p.m., the 300 arts and crafts booths can be set up.
By Saturday morning, it will all be in place.
Enjoy the festival. It happens just once a year.