Bainbridge’s Fall Festival of Leaves has been one of the more popular area festivals for years and that’s likely the reason the festival committee changes it little from year to year.
“We added an art show for Paint Valley students, and we are adding crafts for kids Friday at noon, but that’s pretty much the only changes,” said Vicky Mettler, secretary/treasurer for the festival.
The 52nd festival kicked off Thursday evening with opening ceremonies and a queen pageant, and runs through Sunday.
Mettler said the festival’s popularity is likely due to the family atmosphere.
“It’s probably because we’re just a friendly town,” she said Thursday. “We’re like family and everyone who comes in, we treat them like family.”
As in the past the festival will offer craft and flea market items, food, rides, games, a parade and more. But it is the number of vendors flocking to the festival that seem to make it stand out.
This year, Mettler said, there will be 33 food vendors, approximately 50 arts and crafts vendors, and 35 to 40 flea market vendors. And that’s not counting the local residents that set up shop in their yards or other private areas.
“We just have something for everyone. We hope everyone comes and enjoys our quaint little town, and has fun,” Mettler said.”
The festival opens at 10 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and Mettler said there will be a combined worship serve at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at the Paxton Theatre. The festival entertainment ends at 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. It closes around 5:30 p.m. Sunday when a drawing for numerous raffles is held at the grandstand.
It was the then-active Lions Club of Bainbridge that made the plans for the first festival. The Lions discussed the showcasing of the natural attractions around the Bainbridge area.
“Being good ‘hunting ground,’ it was once roamed by the Mound builders and tribes of Indians and was known as ‘The Valley of the Kings,’” the festival’s website says. “Seip Mound, Kilvert Mound and Baum Village Site, as well as many Indian artifacts still being found in the surrounding fields today all attest to these claims.”
The Lions Club sent letters to all businesses, organizations, churches and civic-minded citizens to attend a town meeting in February of 1968. More than 30 people attended the first meeting and plans were made for the first festival to be held Oct. 17-20, 1968. Otis Brodess, Bainbridge Lions Club director, was named general chairman of the festival. Councilman Robert McCoy and Jim Krug, a past Lions Club president, assisted Brodess. Krug pointed out that the historical value of the area and the natural beauty of the surrounding hills in the fall made Bainbridge the ideal location for such an event.
“Today, his prophecy has proved true as the Fall Festival of Leaves continues to grow into one of the largest and best attended in southern Ohio,” the website says.
For a full schedule of events see inside today’s paper.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.