“The 52nd Francesville Fall Festival has officially started,” Betty Kruger exclaimed into the microphone as community members shuffled throughout the main streets of Francesville.
For over 30 years, Kruger has been involved with the Francesville Festival Committee, this year serving as secretary. Her main duty was completed before the big day, organizing the 70+ vendors that were lined down the streets.
“I already feel like it’s going to be a great year for the festival,” Kruger said.
Francesville was buzzing with laughter from the Hillbilly Science Spectacular, where children and families participated in unique science experiments. Down the streets, screams from the small amusement rides were ringing, and community members enjoyed the tastes of local vendors and fair food. The evening also included the annual Fall Fest Pageant where the tent was standing room only.
With amusement such as Chicken Bingo, the Garden Tractor Pull, Little Nubbins Race, live music, and the ultimate Francesville Parade--community members are in for a treat the entire weekend.
Kruger explained how important the festival is for the community’s growth and how it acts as a symbol of togetherness.
“I feel like this type of thing is big for our small town,” Kruger explained. “We lost a lot of businesses in the last year and it’s scary--but things like this keep us together. It makes people aware that we are here.”
Owner of Olde Crow Primitives, Brian Hodge, lives in the region and sells unique handmade signs and posters, alongside other autumnal accessories. He explained his appreciation for the area and passion for his business.
“I like this area- the community is flexible and nice. Betty is just wonderful,” Hodge expressed. “ My favorite thing is seeing my returned customers. I just had a woman visit who was telling me the potpourri she bought last year still smells. I love that.”
Hodge explained his signs and posters are unique and designed to make people giggle-- such as a goat wearing huge black-framed glasses.
Darlene Mellon, or otherwise known as a community superstar, explained her passion for the sweet town of Francesville.
“I am not a star! I am just a volunteer,” Mellon said. “We’ve lived here since 1985--my husband was involved in the schools, and I was also a teacher for over 20 years. This is just a very kind and generous community.”
People look to Mellon when things, quote-unquote, “need to happen”. She explained the backstory of the cherished festival.
“It started out as just the dedication to our fire department. It was a small parade, with probably only five entries,” Mellon said. “Tomorrow, our parade will be at least an hour long. That is huge growth!”
Mellon is president of the UpTown Project Association, a nonprofit aimed at the success and development of Francesville’s historic district.
“Our primary focus is our downtown and the town park. We want people to know this is a wonderful place to live, and that Pulaski county is great.”
Vendor April, owner of Going Bow-nanas, has set up shop on the streets of small-town roads for years, getting to know the communities one customer and festival at a time.
“I live about three hours away. I like small communities as opposed to the bigger cities. I could be anywhere but I choose to be here,” April explained. “I have been here for about five years. I am a country girl, so I am home. I love the people here-- I can relate to them.”
The parade will take place at 2:00 EST Saturday 21, with a firework extravaganza at dusk sponsored by Fratco. On Sunday enjoy the car show and annual pork chop dinner alongside local choral performing groups.
The Francesville Fall Festival will be celebrating togetherness and fun all weekend long, from September 20-22. Click here to see the entire jam packed schedule. To find out more about the festival, and learn more about the ‘Small town with a big heart’, visit their website at http://francesvillefallfestival.com/.