The maple leaves changed color in Baldwin in time for the start of the 33rd annual Maple Leaf Festival Saturday in Baldwin.
The festival, which features entertainment favorites from past years as well as new events, resumes at 8 a.m. today and continues throughout the afternoon.
On Saturday morning, the festival parade wound through downtown Baldwin trailing floats that paid homage to President Dwight D. Eisenhower with this year's theme, "Maple Leaf Salutes Ike: A Five-Star Parade." Eisenhower, who considered himself a native Kansan, would have been 100 years old this month.
High school bands, Abdallah Temple Shriners and political candidates marched in the parade. One of the candidates, Kansas Atty. Gen. Robert Stephan rode in the procession with his wife, Marilynn, in a Mercedes convertible.
"I try to come here every year," Stephan said. "This is one of those events that seems to offer a friendly smile."
STEPHAN, one of just a few officials who made a personal appearance rather than send a representative, said one girl approached him and asked if he was the real Bob Stephan, or just one of the attorney general's representatives.
The mayor of Baldwin, this year's festival chairperson, rode behind the Grand Marshal, Phyllis Barns Kreighbaum, in the parade. Kreighbaum, the 1957 Maple Leaf Queen, was crowned the first queen two years after the event began. In front of the mayor's car, Toland Harris, the 1990 Maple Leaf Queen, waved enthusiastically to onlookers.
Chosen from a slate of area high school senior girls, Harris, 17, submitted an application and essay to qualify as a candidate. She has participated in past parades, but said she felt nervous presiding as queen.
"I was really happy when I found out I won," Harris said. "But I was nervous when they announced my name during the parade."
PARADE watchers came from far and near to witness the festivities. Sally Walsh, Ottawa, traveled to Baldwin to watch her son march with the Ottawa Middle School Band.
Walsh, a 10-year Maple Leaf Festival veteran, said she thought the turn-out increased this year. Last year's attendance numbered 20,000.
Lee Whaley, dressed in his U.S. Air Force uniform and representing the American Legion, watched the parade as he leaned against a tree at the corner of Eighth and Baker streets. A former Baldwin city councilman and festival chairperson, Whaley, seemed pleased with the parade.
"Everything's looking good this year," said Whaley, who is retired from active and reserve military duty.
As always, crafts, food and other activities made up a big part of the Maple Leaf Festival. This year, vendors offered traditional items, homemade candy, hand-crafted dolls, and quilted pillows, as well as Bart Simpson T-shirts and a ride on an Aerotrim, a gyro cross-training device that simulates weightlessness.
OTHER EVENTS included a cookout, quilt show, train rides, airplane tours and a story-telling session, a new addition to the festival.
Becky McMillen, president of the Heartland Storytellers, a Lawrence story-telling club, organized the event. McMillen, a Baldwin resident of 21 years, convinced her fellow club members to volunteer their time for the event.
"We all started out telling stories about people around town, some true and some not," she said. "Now, if kids are listening, I tell ghost stories, and if it's an adult audience, I use tall tales and folk stories."
The first Storyteller, Mike Rundle, Lawrence city commissioner and a candidate for the Douglas County Commission, told stories of trouble-making ducks, babies unafraid of ghosts with black-eyes, and a tale in which all the action happened in reverse order.
RUNDLE began telling his story to nine audience members, but as he used facial expressions and employed strange voices in his story telling, passers-by stopped to listen and the audience more than doubled within five minutes.
"I thought he was really good," said Kristin Hitchcock, 11, of Baldwin. "I liked the backwards story the best and I really jumped when he started quacking," referring to the noises Rundle made during his telling of a story called The Spectral Duck.