Sun shines on Maple Leaf Festival Sunday
After a cool start to the 52nd annual Maple Leaf Festival Saturday, the sun shined on the event for day two and another huge throng showed up for both days.
“Although Saturday was cooler, Sunday made up for it with gorgeous sunshine,” said Annie France, Maple Leaf committee chair. “We really rely on our barricade people and parade safety to indicate the crowds and they seemed to feel it was as big as usual.”
That means up to 30,000 people made the annual trek to Baldwin City for the fall classic. For at least one person, it seemed like a lot more.
“When I saw the crowd on the street, I couldn’t believe it,” said Janet Daniel, Tonganoxie, who had been to the festival before and wanted to see a grandchild in Saturday’s grand parade. “There must be 150,000 people here. Too crowded for me.”
France said most of the 200 vendors comprising the 300 booths had good experiences.
“Many vendors remarked on the great sales and many have already renewed for next year,” she said. “I saw some great new arts and crafts items — there was something for everyone.”
As for that first day weather with only a few peeks of sun and temperatures in the 40s, just ask the sno-cone salesman.
“People automatically scoff when they walk by, saying ‘how many sno cones have you sold?’” said David Pressgrove, who lives in Craig, Colo., but was born and raised in Baldwin City and returns every year to help with his parents’ sno-cone booth. “It’s give and take every year. Some times it’s a banner year for sno cones.”
This was not that year. But he’s seen it before.
“It’s probably an average October for us, just because there have been rainy really bad ones and sunny really nice ones. This one is in the middle,” said Pressgrove, who is the grandson of one of the festival founders, Ivan Boyd. “What can you do? My grandpa decided this was the week for the leaves to turn.”
But don’t pity the poor sno-cone hawker. The booth is a bit diversified.
“I’ve sold popcorn, basically, and cider,” he said. “I had to go get more popcorn. I don’t ever remember having to do that before.”
The maple leaves’ beauty this time of year that inspired Boyd and others to start the festival 52 years ago do bring people to town. They are one of the reasons that Steve and Kathy Foster of Ozawkie have made the trek here since 1977.
“I like the leaves, she likes the crafts,” said Steve Foster. “It’s chillier than usual and a lot more overcast.”
They were riding the shuttle bus into town at around 1 p.m., well after the grand parade that draws thousands to the festival was finished and the crowds had started to disperse.
“I want it to be over,” said Kathy Foster about the parade an who also has another reason to attend. “I come for the quilt show. I was always a quilt wanna-be-er. Now that I’ve retired, I’m working on them.”
Like Pressgrove, they’ve seen the festival in all kinds of weather. They remember when it was so hot that bees were all over everything. They’ve seen it rain the entire weekend. They still keep coming back. Each type of weather has a different effect on the festival, according to France.
“It would have been nice to have some more sun. When the sun comes out, it feels good and everyone soaks it up,” said France. “But when it’s cold outside, the food smells and tastes better.”
It was another successful festival and France gives much of the credit to the group of people that make it happen every year.
“We also had many returning volunteers that assisted and many new volunteers,” she said. “Our success is completely dependent on our volunteers and the committee involvement and we’re always looking for committee members — this year is no different. Now is a great time to join us in planning for the next year and making changes.