Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Maple Leaf Festival, Baldwin

Autumn is a season of festivals throughout the world. For centuries, we have given thanks for the harvest and enjoyed one last celebration before the arrival of winter.

Many communities celebrate the brilliant colors of autumn. One nearby is Baldwin (City), one of Kansas' early settlements. Baldwin is blessed with large and attractive old trees - most notably the maples which annually cloak the city with a bright red tapestry.  The Maple Leaf festival, held annually on the third full weekend of October, has become a major attraction, drawing huge crowds from surrounding counties and from Missouri.

Baldwin's able festival planners have no control over is Mother Nature. Due to recent climate conditions, many of the normally brilliant maple trees were instead a dull, crunchy brown, but even that didn't effect the festival activities or the crowds.

Taking advantage of a beautiful sunny day, my wife Nancy, daughter Allison, and grand-daughters Sydney (almost 5) and Brooklyn (18 months), and I made the short drive west US Highway 56 (following the route of the old Santa Fe Trail) to view the Maple Leaf Festival Parade. From a neighborhood street where we were able to find a parking space, it was a bit of a hike to the parade route, but once the parade started, the grand-kids were transported.

[The parade photos that follow were taken from curb level, and facing the sun. Parade organizers almost always route parades that way for some reason.]

The Color Guard
Kansas National Guard Band
What little boy would not be excited to ride in a firetruck in a parade?
Nostalgia --- a Plymouth Belvedere!
Re-enactors recall early days on the Santa Fe Trail
Thinking Pink for breast cancer awareness - old International Harvester tractor
Young members of The Dazzlers - a Christian troupe for drill team, acrobatics, etc.
Street Rod - a Ford?
A '29 Ford - and a flapper chick
Piccolo picker - Tonganoxie Chieftain Marching Band
Colorful flags of the states - presented by local Knights of Columbus
Is it possible that Dorothy had an adventure in Oz that is not recorded in Frank Baum's book?
Truth in T-shirts! My favorite band t-shirt.
Scrambling for candy!
Missouri Bushwhacker re-enactor terrorizes Douglas County
Sydney and Brooklyn loved the horsies!
Different style of equestrian
Still thinking pink...
Not pictured here are the numerous crafts and gifts booths - a major draw at the Maple Leaf Festival. As at most such events, a variety of crafts are represented, in a wide range of prices and quality.

Food? - of course, lots of the familiar fair food options, provided by local organizations. The longest food lines? - for kettle corn and funnel cakes, of course. I stood in line for quite a while to get bison burger at the American Legion hall, too.

The color of the "necessary facilities" made up for some of the missing red (foliage).

Other events taking place at the festival include a country music tent (free), foot races, a carnival, petting zoo, open houses around town and at some of the historic sites mentioned below.

A Few Words About Baldwin:
For those unfamiliar with Baldwin, it is a community steeped in history, located south of Lawrence and west of Olathe on the route of the Santa Fe Trail. It is home to Kansas' oldest college, Baker University, which houses several interesting old buildings (including stately old Parmenter Hall shown below) plus the Quayle Rare Bible Collection. Of considerable historic interest is the Black Jack Battlefield, site of the Civil War's first battle (1856) between organized militia representing northern and southern interests. Nearby is a small section of tall grass prairie where visitors can walk among the swales (super-sized ruts) created by the heavy weight of oxen and freight wagons over the Santa Fe Trail.

Long-time readers of my blog may remember my 2009 blog entry about riding the rails on the Midland Railway. That, too, is located at Baldwin, just another of the many reasons to visit this charming little town.