|Crowds filled Main Street and spilled onto Gratz Street.|
(Photo by Alexandria Kerns, UK School of Journalism and Media)
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media
The sun may not have shone much on Kentucky this weekend, but that did not stop crowds from enjoying the 42nd annual Midway Fall Festival.
The festival started Saturday morning with beautiful weather as visitors gathered on Main Street to explore offerings of the vendors, who were more numerous than ever. This changed around 4 p.m. when it started to rain heavily, which led many vendors and festival patrons to leave for the day.
Sunday, the skies cleared and many vendors and visitors returned to finish out the festival strong. Kenny Smith, president of the Midway Business Association, estimated that between 12,500 and 15,000 people came to the festival. Last year’s crowd was estimated at 15,000. Smith attributed the likely decrease to the weather.
“The rain hurt us on Saturday,” said Smith. “We didn’t have a surge of people in the afternoon.”
Among the vendors leaving early Saturday was Carol Hyde of St. Louis, whose booth flooded. She blamed a storm drain directly behind her booth. Hyde did not let the rain ruin the weekend, however, and returned Sunday to enjoy the rest of the festival.
Some vendors chose to stay despite the rain. Julia Weber, with Adventures Creation, did not leave until the festival was over Saturday evening. Weber’s booth was full of beautiful jewelry that Weber said she had collected from all over the country. Once the rain passed Saturday, she said, visitors returned to the festival.
“If I can make money, then I am going to stay and enjoy the festival,” Weber said.
One festival visitor, Ashleigh Harden of Lexington, did not let the rain affect her Saturday festival experience. Harden said she loved the small-town feel of Midway, and was surprised to see what the vendors had to offer.
“I was so excited when I saw that one of the vendors was selling succulents,” said Harden. “They were even priced pretty cheap!”
According to Smith, the festival had 127 vendors this year selling crafts and serving food. Smith said some vendors reserved several booth spaces, which extended the festival across Gratz Street next to the United Bank parking lot. The vendors included many new and old faces and products ranging from wreaths, to plants, to pony rides.
About 150 vendor spaces had been reserved, up from 120 last year. One veteran vendor was surprised to see how the festival had grown. Jo and Sherman Kallin, owners of Down Home Soap from Louisville, were moved from their typical spot because they did not turn register in time. The couple was surprised, but happy to see the festival become more popular.
“We have been coming to the festival for about 20 years, and we’ve never seen vendors by the bank,” Sherman Kallin said.
Several vendors traveled hundreds of miles to be a part of Midway’s community for the weekend. The Kreole Sisters came all the way from Lafayette, Louisiana, giving festival-goers a chance to experience authentic Cajun food by passing out free samples of pralines and bread pudding. The vendors’ menu included several authentic dishes to visitors such as chicken and sausage gumbo and fried catfish topped with crawfish ettouffee.
R. J. Corman Railroad Co. gave visitors a little taste of Midway history during the festival by having a train on site for people to tour. Corman set up the train to look like the dinner train that is located in Bardstown. Drew and Gail Costa, from Versailles, were impressed.
“It was nice to actually see inside the train car,” said Drew Costa. “We had thought about doing the dinner, but seeing it made us really want to do it more.”
Even with the downpour of rain Saturday afternoon, the festival was still able to bring in a large crowd of people to Midway. This proved that despite the weather, the festival still a success.