Maple Leaf Festival a top draw for region, state

Frank J. Buchman/Special to The Herald

One of the state’s top attractions returns for its 64th year as the Maple Leaf Festival unfolds in Baldwin City.

The Douglas County community’s population swells, seemingly almost like there’s been a detonation. 

While Baldwin City has about 4,000 residents, the annual Maple Leaf Festival, this weekend, could attract nearly 40,000 people. There is a full state of activities planned.

Coordinators are expecting attendance of nearly 40,000 people for this year’s Maple Leaf Festival. 

Baldwin City has about 4,000 residents. Yet, the 64th annual celebration Saturday and Sunday could draw 10 times that many for scheduled activities. 

“Of course, it depends on the weather,” planners admitted. 

Starting in 1958, the Maple Leaf Festival began as a community event inspired by Dr. Ivan Boyd, Baker University biology professor. 

Actually, Dr. Boyd, Dr. Charles Dounda, C.R. Whitley, Ralph Sellmyer and a Mr. Horn are credited for initiating the festival, Michael Curran said. 

 “They determined the third weekend of October was the optimum time to view changing colors of maple tree leaves. Plus, the perfect time to celebrate the successful harvest,” Curran, event promoter, said. “That’s how the Maple Leaf Festival began, and the celebration has continued, and been growing ever since. Now, there’s something for everybody going on in the jam-filled schedule, kicking off Saturday morning with a fun run.” 

Arts and crafts booths are open both days downtown with free country music being played on a regular schedule. 

About 300 exhibits including nearly two dozen food vendors providing a variety of delights are already planning to participate. 

Always a major attraction is the Quilt Show at the Baldwin Intermediate Center, west of town on Highway 56. 

Of course, the parade Saturday morning is festival highlight, with the kiddie parade kicking off at 10:45. 

“Everybody is welcome to come participate, but no candy or treats can be distributed from entries,” Curran said. 

The 5K, one-mile walk, and a one-mile kid’s run Saturday morning are at the golf course. 

Historical tours of the Baldwin City area are to feature the Black Jack Battlefield and cabin as well as the Baker Old Castle and Quayle Bible exhibit. 

Many high school graduating classes plan their reunions this weekend, so it’s traditionally a homecoming event as well. 

 “As in years past, the festival will feature live music in the Music Tent both Saturday and Sunday,” Curran said. 

A non-competitive fitness Volkswalk touring the area’s scenic and historical sites has again been scheduled on Sunday. 

“This is a volunteer, non-profit activity,” Curran said. “The committee meets throughout the year getting organized, and then it all comes together with everybody helping. 

“A successful festival allows the committee to fund scholarships, and support local charities and community organizations,” Curran verified. 

Details are available at www.mapleleaffestival.com.