Baldwin City’s Maple Leaf Festival sees big turnout amid pleasant fall weather

photo by: Elvyn Jones

Visitor walk over a maple leaf stenciled at the intersection of Eighth and High streets as people wait for turkey legs at the Kappa Epsilon turkey leg booth at the annual Maple Leaf Festival on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Baldwin City.

Shortly before noon on Saturday, Charlene Hannon and her daughter Annie Hannon had just a few free minutes before the Baldwin City Maple Leaf Festival parade ended and a throng of people started moving a block west to their booth on the corner of Seventh and High streets.

It was the second straight year the Baldwin City mother and daughter had sold their baked goods at the prime corner location, next to the popular Baker baseball team’s sausage booth with its billowing aromatic smoke.

“It’s a good location,” Annie Hannon said. “They squirt water on the grill to build up the smoke to draw customers.”

The annual fall festival started on Saturday and will continue Sunday, and Charlene Hannon said the atmosphere was great.

“The weather is beautiful,” she said.

A block to the west of the Hannons’ booth, an electronic bank sign at the corner of Eighth and High streets reported a temperature of 63 degrees as the Baldwin United Methodist Church bell tower rang out the noon hour.

At his booth near that intersection, festival veteran Brent Sharp, of Goddard, said he was anticipating another good year for his jewelry booth.

“This is our 14th year,” he said. “Baldwin City is a beautiful community with wonderful people. That’s why we keep coming back. And we make a little money.”

photo by: Elvyn Jones

A crowd fills Eighth Street in downtown Baldwin City for the annual Maple Leaf Festival on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022.

Two hours later and half a block to the west, Joe Abrahams was into his third hour of grilling at the Baker University Kappa Epsilon turkey leg booth. The demand for the fraternity’s turkey legs surprised Abrahams, a first-year Baker student from the United Kingdom.

“We’ve had a line since I got here,” he said, waving a cooking tong at the line that stretched through the intersection of Eighth and High streets. “They told me it would be busy, but I wasn’t expecting this.”

Jennie Wilson, of Grandview, Mo., expected high demand for the customized shirts she was selling in her booth on Eighth Street — so much so that she decided not to wear any of her own merchandise in anticipation of selling everything she brought to Baldwin City.

“It’s been busy all day,” she said. “It’s such a nice day for the festival.”

photo by: Elvyn Jones

Jennie Wilson, of Grandview, Mo., shows some of her customized shirts to Gabriele McDonald, of Topeka, at a booth at the annual Maple Leaf Festival on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Baldwin City.

As Wilson spoke, Topeka resident Gabriele McDonald, who had a small shopping cart with her, looked through the shirts hanging from the front of the booth.

“I’m here to shop,” she said. “I like craft things. I’m looking for handcrafted items, not manufactured things. I like sunflower-themed things. I’ve bought a couple of big things I’ll pick up when I leave.”

Visitors and vendors seemed to be pleased with the festival, said Maple Leaf Festival Chairman Mike Curran. Festival organizers have no way of counting the crowd, but based on the number of cars in festival-reserved parking lots, they estimate that about 30,000 people visit during the two-day festival run when the weather is nice.

“The food lines are long, the vendors are doing well and the weather is wonderful,” Curran said. “It’s 2:30 in the afternoon and it looks like another successful Maple Leaf. I have no idea how many people are here, but it’s a great crowd. It looks like a success, but we have another day tomorrow. The weather is supposed to be great again.”

The Maple Leaf Festival will continue from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday in Baldwin City.

photo by: Elvyn Jones

Emergency vehicles from Baldwin City and nearby towns and fire districts open the annual Maple Leaf Festival Parade on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Baldwin City.


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