A larger and more diverse Farmers Market and Craft Show will be one of the highlights for visitors at the 43rd Autumn on Parade festival this weekend.
Farmers Market coordinator Laury Edlund said 181 vendors, at least 25 more than at previous festivals, will display their wares in booths on the Ogle County Courthouse lawn and the surrounding area in downtown Oregon on Saturday, Oct. 5 and Sunday, Oct.6.
"It's definitely up this year," Edlund said. "I think some are looking for a different venue or maybe one closer to home."
She said several of the new vendors told her they were referred by the festival's veteran crafters.
"I've had a lot of them tell me 'I've heard you have a good festival and I should be part of it,'" she said.
Several new crafters will add variety to the items offered for sale, Edlund said.
"We have maple products this year, a woman who makes bras into aprons, and items made from sea shells," she said. "Lloyd Bellows will do blacksmith demonstrations as well as offer his items for sale."
The AOP festival will serve up its traditional fare of fun with some added attractions for 2013.
Haunted Harvest is the theme for this year's event.
"Following this year's theme 'Haunted Harvest,' entertainers on Saturday on the courthouse square will include Fred the Vampire and Horrible Harry just to name a few," said festival president Marseyne Snow. "Frankenstein will also stroll the courthouse lawn on stilts. After all it is a Haunted Harvest."
One of the new events for this year is a post parade show by the South Shore Drill Team on Sunday.
"Because South Shore is always a such a crowd favorite during the Harvest Time Parade we decided to have them stay a bit longer and do a show after the parade is over," said Snow. "The post parade show will be held on Jefferson Street in front of the Oregon library."
Snow said this year's parade, held on Sunday at 1 p.m., is shaping up to be one of the largest in recent years.
"In addition to the South Shore Drill Team and the Jesse White Tumblers we have booked the New Generation Drill Team and a Circus Wagon Train," Snow said.
Antique tractors and vintage vehicles, youth groups and marching bands, and other commercial entries will also be on hand.
Also new to this year's festival is a 93 foot long zipline operated by Kid Again Inflatable Fun Shows, located in the AOP Fun Zone.
"We wanted to try something new and the zip-line looks like a lot of fun," Snow said.
A Volcano Adventureland inflatable and a ‘Lil Builders Toddler Zone will also be offered in the Fun Zone along with face painting, balloon artistry, and cotton candy. Activities will be offered on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Wristbands are needed for entry to Fun Zone activities and cost $5 prior to the festival weekend and $8 during the festival. Advance sales are available at the Nash Recreation Center in Oregon.
The Oregon Park District will be providing volunteers for the Fun Zone ticket booth this year and has also created a special Autumn on Parade photo backdrop where kids, and adults, can pose for a photo to remember their visit to the festival for years to come.
The Illinois Patriot Guard Fallen Heroes Traveling Memorial Wall will also be on display both days during the festival.
The wall, initiated by Gold Star families and the Riders, pays tribute to Illinois military members who gave their lives in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn. It bears the names, portraits, hometowns, ranks and dates of death of each service member.
The wall will be located on the lawn behind the Oregon Coliseum at the corner of North Fifth Street and Frankin Street. In the event of inclement weather, the wall will be located inside the Coliseum.
And true to its roots in 1970, the heart of the festival remains the Farmers' Market and Craft Show that features booths that offer a variety of arts and crafts ranging from handmade wood items to homemade baked breads.
Through cooperation with Ogle County and city officials, booths are located on the historic courthouse lawn and on surrounding city streets.