This year’s Beaverdale Fall Festival will add a talent show, a new vendor section for handmade, local crafters and a street dance that organizers hope will attract more teens to attend and stay at the event.
Otherwise, the annual event, which is Sept. 14 and 15 and serves as a celebration of the Beaverdale neighborhood, will be very similar to previous years.
“We’re basically the same ole same ole; if it works, we do it,” says Theresa Graziano, who has served as Beaverdale Fall Festival committee president since 2005. She says she hopes after two years of colder and rainy weather, festival-goers have much better weather this year.
The fall festival takes place in the heart of the Beaverdale neighborhood along Beaver Avenue from Beaver Crest north to Adams Avenue and on Urbandale Avenue east and west to the first median. It includes musical performances and other entertainment; a parade; rides; fireworks; and food, craft and product vendors.
“I thoroughly enjoy doing this,” Graziano says as she heads into her seventh year as the committee’s president. “You always have the situations that arise and differences of opinions, but in the end, we’re always trying to do the same thing and that’s have a great and successful year. I love doing it.”
The Beaverdale Fall Festival started more than 20 years ago. Merchants in the area created a fall festival that had sidewalk sales, carnival rides, music, a parade and more. The event had an Octoberfest theme and was known as Beaverdale Days. Cold weather forced the event to be moved to September. It was later renamed the Beaverdale Fall Festival.
Holy Trinity Catholic Church at the time had also hosted an annual celebration in September. In the 1980s, church leaders and the Beaverdale business community decided to combine their efforts into the single weekend of the fall festival.
Festival committee members meet in October to discuss the year’s event. Then planning for the next year’s festival begins in February.
For the 2012 festival, organizers have moved the food vendors onto Urbandale Avenue on both the east and wide sides. The craft fair will feature handmade works by local people. That component had been part of previous fall festivals and was successful but fell off for a few years while committee members changed.
“We thought it would be fun to bring it back and emphasize to the people who want to be there that it’s handmade crafts,” Graziano says. “We’re trying to help those who are local and doing their own thing.”
The craft fair will run from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday. It will include crafters and emerging artists.
“These vendors will be smaller in size and hand make the items they have for sale,” says Denise Mernka, who serves on the committee and oversees the vendor portion of the festival.
Product vendors such as those who sell Tupperware and other products that they distribute through a company will continue to be at the festival.
Last year there were 22 food vendors and 22 nonfood vendors at the festival, Mernka says. She says this year’s festival will have a similar number of vendors.
The deadline to be a vendor is Aug. 24. Vendors can find the form online at the festival’s website: www.fallfestival.org.
Two new components of the festival are a talent show and a street dance, which would take place on Saturday night. Organizers were still working out details for the talent show and trying to determine a location for the street dance as of press time for this article.
“(The street dance) would be for the younger folk,” says Graziano, who added that a lot of time teenagers stand around in groups with their friends and don’t participate in the activities because they’re probably at an age where the rides are too young for them.
The festival starts on Friday evening. The streets are closed at 4 p.m., and vendors start setting up so they can be ready as soon as people begin to arrive after work. Rides begin operation about 5 p.m.
Each year a Fall Festival logo is designed and put on T-shirts and other commemorative items. The 2012 items will be on sale at the Beaverdale Neighborhood Association booth. Keeping with tradition, the shirts will not have a theme and the artist designs the shirt based on his or her personal ideas. Usually artists incorporate a beaver into the drawing.
Bands play both Friday and Saturday nights at Holy Trinity, GoodSons, Saints Pub + Patio, Tally’s Restaurant and Christopher’s Restaurant. Each restaurant or bar is in charge of hiring its own band or bands for the weekend’s festivities.
Fireworks are shot off at dusk Friday from the empty lot at the corner of Beaver and Adams avenues, where the former Rice Elementary School was. Friday’s festivities run until about 11 p.m.
The festival continues into Saturday with the annual breakfast at 8 a.m. at Holy Trinity Catholic Church and School.
The parade begins at 10 a.m. The 1.7-mile route starts at First Federated Church, 4801 Franklin Ave., and goes east on Franklin to Beaver Avenue and then north on Beaver to Euclid Avenue. There are usually more than 100 entries that range from area schools, Girl Scouts, the Isiserettes Drill and Drum Corps. and veterans. About 30,000 people watch the parade, which lasts until 11 a.m. or noon.
Graziano says the event doesn’t traditionally have a theme, but people always ask what the theme is because they want to build their parade entry around it. “Maybe some year we’ll have a theme,” she says.
The deadline for parade entries is Sept. 7. Those who want to be in the parade can contact Graziano at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the festival website: www.fallfestival.org.
The community stage opens about 12:30 p.m. on Saturday in the First American Bank parking lot, 2805 Beaver Ave. A small local band will play along with a performances by the Isiserettes, Farrells, the Van Cleve Dance Studio and others.
“We’re trying to bring a broader range of acts,” Graziano says.
Saturday’s festivities take place until 11 p.m. or midnight. Regardless of how late the party goes, the festival committee and its volunteers are back out at the site early Sunday morning to clean up the area and make sure no trash was left behind. A local Boy Scout troop cleans up after the parade, and a group from Walnut Creek Church helps clean up the entire festival area.
The fall festival basically pays for itself, but there is a lot of expense involved with barricades, the street closures, police patrol, street cleaning and items to rent.
“When we do turn a profit, we try to turn around and give it to the neighborhood,” Graziano says, adding that occasionally in the past, the committee has given a couple of thousand dollars to local schools and community organizations.