Three parades, many competitions await at Roanoke Fall Festival this weekend

Roanoke Lions Club members dump plastic ducks into the creek at the Roanoke Park to start the Roanoke Fall Festival Ducky Run last year. This year’s event takes place Saturday, Sept. 7, starting at 5 p.m.
Roanoke Lions Club members dump plastic ducks into the creek at the Roanoke Park to start the Roanoke Fall Festival Ducky Run last year. This year’s event takes place Saturday, Sept. 7, starting at 5 p.m. TAB file photo.

Roanoke always brings its best to its annual Fall Festival, held this year on two days, Friday, Sept. 6, and Saturday, Sept. 7. With three parades, a large variety of festival food and competitions ranging from pizza eating to a demolition derby, Roanoke’s town park will be buzzing with excitement and lots to do.

“We have tons of events this year,” says Festival Marketing Director Sierra Dinius. “We’re are focusing on having something for everyone.”

The first new event, the Little Miss and Mister Contest, actually happens before the festival officially gets underway on Thursday evening, Sept. 5, at 6:30 p.m. under the Main Tent at the park.

“It’s something we’d like to continue annually; it’s for 5 to 7 year olds,” Dinius says. “It’s not necessarily a pageant; it’s actually themed, so any of the kids that registered for it will actually come as their favorite character, or theme wear type of thing. So it’s more of a costume type of contest.”

Registration is already closed for this new event.

Another new event at this year’s festival are pony – and draft horse – rides and a petting zoo, happening Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 9 p.m. at the front ball diamond.

Contests at the festival also include a new pizza-eating contest on Friday at 6:15 p.m. at the pavilion. There is a fee to enter the contest, and prizes will be awarded, with Elmo’s Pizza sponsoring the timed contest.

“I think it will be a hoot to watch,” Dinius adds.

Also on tap are three contests of speed, the sack race, three-legged race and egg-and-spoon race, set for Saturday from noon to 1 p.m. Registration is at the pavilion.

There are always lots of events for kids, including an opportunity to “Meet the Fire Department” on Saturday morning from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the park. The department’s new ladder truck will be showcased and everyone can meet the Roanoke Volunteer Fire Department’s firefighters.
Indiana Wild returns to the festival on Saturday with a menagerie of unique animals, focused on education and responsible animal ownership. Their program is from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the pavilion.

More kids’ activities will take place throughout the day on both Friday and Saturday at the pavilion. Face painting in particular will be scheduled Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Other amusements include a ducky pond, bottle-knocking game, ring toss and bean bag toss, with the games held at the pavilion and switched during the weekend so there’s always something new going on, Dinius adds.

“Craft Alley,” featuring craft and not-for-profit vendors, will be held on the park’s tennis courts on Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and again on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Boutique clothing items, wood crafts, jewelry and knitted items will be on sale alongside booths by the United States Air Force and National Wild Turkey Federation, among others.

“We already have 12 for sure signed up, and we’re expecting that to grow as well,” Dinius says. “We’re hoping to have a great turnout and fill the tennis courts this year. That’s been really exciting.”

Coming back this year after a hiatus is the carnival, with H&C Amusements, of North Salem, providing the rides.

“This year we’re excited to bring back that aspect and have more of the rides for every age,” Dinius says.

The best cakes and cookies will also be judged – then auctioned off – on Saturday.

This year, a new “People’s Choice” award will be presented, with folks voting on their favorites when the entries are on display from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Seminary United Methodist Church.

At 6:30 p.m. the auction will begin under the main tent at the park.

Entertainment on tap this year includes the return of the Wildcat Valley Cloggers, performing Friday from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. under the main tent. Dinius says the group is great at getting the crowd involved.

“They were a huge hit last year,” she says. They were able to get everyone up and dancing, and involved a lot of the audience in some of their clogging routines, and it was just really cool.”

A local band, the Roanoke Rounders, will follow the cloggers on Friday at 7:30 p.m., playing bluegrass and old-time music featuring a variety of instruments.

On Saturday, regional favorite Wehr Rock of Elders will perform classic rock, country and a bit of blues tunes. The band’s concert gets underway at 7:30 p.m.

Popular annual events not to be missed this year include three parades: the Ageless Iron Tractor Parade on Friday starting at 6:10 p.m. on Main Street in downtown Roanoke; a pet parade on Saturday starting at 11:30 a.m. at the Roanoke Park entrance; and the 66th annual Fall Festival Parade, which gets underway at 3 p.m. on Main Street downtown.

Always a pair of crowd pleasers, the NTPA Tractor Pull kicks off Friday at 7 p.m. and the Demolition Derby starts up on Saturday at 7 p.m. Both events take place at the park’s pull field.

Another popular event is the Fall Festival Follies, giving local talent the stage to perform on Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. under the main tent. Registration is encouraged, as space is limited. There is no charge to participate.

Also on that list is the annual Ducky Run, which will take place Saturday, at 5 p.m. at the Roanoke Park’s creek. Sponsored by the Lions Club, tickets will be available for purchase Saturday morning at the Roanoke Farmers Market downtown as well as the park. A plethora of prizes will be awarded to those holding the numbers to the swiftest ducks.

And last – but not least – is festival food, with even more offerings available for purchase at the food court this year with the addition of “carnival” food vendors, featuring a plethora of delectable fried foods.

For more information, registration forms and a schedule of events, visit www.roanokefallfestival.com or “Roanoke Fall Festival” on Facebook.