The Festival of Leaves, one of the best-known festivals in southern Ohio, will be held today through Sunday, Oct. 16 in downtown Bainbridge.
Festivities include rides, entertainment, arts, crafts, a flea market, an antique tractor show, a log sawing contest, an antique and classic car show, a 5K run, and an opportunity to drive the four self-guided “Skyline Drive” scenic tours.
“This is the 55th year of the festival, and it actually started as a Lions Club event,” said Bobbi Blanton, who is in charge of publicity for the Fall Festival of Leaves Committee. “We call the area Leaf Country, U.S.A because, where it sits in the valley, the leaves are so beautiful this time of year.”
Blanton said there will be some new attractions at the festival this year. A car will be given away to one of the festival goers. Scratch off tickets for a chance to win the car will be sold for $5 with a maximum purchase of five tickets per person. “They scratch off six spaces, and if somebody reveals all six cars, then they are the one who will win the car,” said Blanton.
A Power Wheel Demolition Derby will be held for children ages 4-8. “They bring their own Power Wheel, and it’s basically like a demolition derby,” said Blanton.
As in previous years, the Cincinnati Circus will be performing multiple shows at a green space downtown. They will perform at 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday.
The queen pageant will kick off the festival today at the Paxton Theater in downtown Bainbridge at 8 p.m. with doors opening at 7 p.m. Tickets for the pageant are $5. “We have 11 girls in the pageant this year,” said Blanton.
Amusement rides and select food vendors will be open at 5 p.m. tonight with all-you-can-ride wrist bracelets available for $20.
For the rest of the weekend individual ride tickets will be sold for $1.25 each. Rides require three to five tickets each. Twenty tickets can be purchased for $20, and 40 tickets can be purchased for $40. Wristbands will be sold for $25.
“We like to invite people in our community, too, so Ironsides Social Riders will have some live music going on Friday and Saturday night, and the American Legion also has some live music on Saturday night,” said Blanton. “Ironside and the Legion will also have their beer garden as well.”
A map of events for the festival will be posted in the festival office building, but QR codes will also be posted on vendor locations and local store windows to allow people to bring up the location of festival attractions on their phones.
Registration for the 5K run/walk begins at 7:30 a.m. Sunday near the festival building with the race beginning at 8 a.m.
“One thing that I don’t think people know that we do is a community worship service at the Paxton Theater Sunday at 10:30 a.m.,” said Blanton. “All four of our local churches come together and have worship in the Paxton Theater.”
The annual Fall Festival of Leaves Parade will begin at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Blanton said participants can show up the day of the parade even if they have not registered. Prizes of $400, $300, and $200 will be awarded to the first, second and third place floats.
“It’s something fun that we’ve done for years and years, and it just keeps growing and growing,” Blanton said of the festival.
A full schedule of events for the festival can be found at fallfestivalofleaves.com.
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.