Baldwin City is ready for Maple Leaf weekend
Many attending the 58th annual Maple Leaf Festival this weekend would probably finish this year’s open-ended theme of “Baldwin City is . . .” with some reference to the festival.
With the October event drawing from 30,000 to 40,000 when weather cooperates, it’s safe to assume many think of Baldwin City as home of the Maple Leaf Festival. However, Maple Leaf Festival Committee member Donna Curran would finish the sentence with “gorgeous” if the forecast holds and the weekend brings cool, dry days,
“There’s supposed to be highs in the low 60s Saturday and low 70s on Sunday,” she said. “It’s going to be gorgeous, and leaves are finally beginning to turn. If we get a couple of cool nights, they could be gorgeous this weekend.
“It might be a little cool for the vendors who have to set up booths at 6 in the morning, but it’s going to be perfect weather.”
The most important thing about the forecast is the prediction of no rain. Although they have no way to count attendance other than estimate from the use of park-and-ride lots, organizers estimate the festival draws more than 30,000 visitors with nice weather.
The other concern of festival organizers this year was a couple of construction projects at Baldwin City gateways, which stared late because of spring rain. The more involved project, a series of improvements to Douglas County Road 1055 from Baldwin City’s northern city limits to Vinland, was nearly complete at the end of last week and all barricades are scheduled for removal Friday.
CR 1055 provides the shortest route from east Lawrence to Baldwin City. However, it won’t be available to many visitors from the north despite the completion of work near Baldwin City because of rehabilitation work on a bridge just south of Lawrence. That leaves U.S. Highway 59 south to U.S. Highway 56 then east 4 miles to Baldwin City as the most direct route from all Lawrence locations.
The other construction project is the realignment of the U.S. 56 and High Street intersection on Baldwin City’s east side. That intersection, too, is slated to be open this weekend, said Brad Simth, Baldwin City interim city administrator.
Because of the limited parking near the festival downtown, visitors are encouraged to make use of the park-and-ride sites at Baldwin schools. The lots at Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center, 500 Lawrence St., Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center, 100 Bullpup Drive , and the Baldwin Junior High School/High School campus, 415 Eisenhower St., are managed by various local nonprofit groups, which generally charge from $5 to $10.
Although technically a three-day festival, the only activities on Friday are the rides and games Toby’s Carnival offers from 6 to 10 p.m.
The real festival action is reserved for the festival hours of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Early shoppers will start visiting the 361 booths the Maple Leaf Committee registered and the additional 75 available through Baldwin City Business and Professional Women when they open Saturday. A flood of shoppers arrive with the end of the 11 a.m. parade.
The official deadline to enter the parade has passed, but unregistered entrants are welcome provided they check in by 10:30 a.m. at the staging area on High Street with floats staging on Hillside Drive. No entries, preregistered or walk-up, will be allowed in the parade after 10:30 a.m.
The U.S. Highway 56/High Street intersection construction on the city’s eastern gateway has led to one change in parade staging. Those riding horses in the parade will stage this year at the community garden on First Street about three blocks south of High Street.
There’s no concerns with the main downtown festival area. Festival booths will line High Street from Sixth to Eighth streets and fill a couple of downtown buildings. Another row of booths will line more than five blocks of Eighth Street. BPW vendors will add more booths on and near Chapel Street.
Trams will be available to shuttle attendees to about the festival’s various locations.
There will be a petting zoo, face painting and children's crafts during festival hours at the Kids Zone at Seventh and High streets. Mad Science of Greater Kansas City will present programs that blend entertainment and scientific experiments at 12:30, 2 and 4 p.m. Saturday and 11 am. and 1 and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
The Maple Leaf Quilt Guide’s annual quilt show will be during festival hours Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center.
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