WENDELL — The 86th annual Harvest Festival is expected to be one of the biggest ever. The festival will take place on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 4 and 5, and will include food, live music and amusements and contests for participants young and old.
As many as 10,000 are expected for Saturday according to Harvest Festival committee member Regina Harmon, with hopes reaching well beyond those numbers because of record sellouts of the 100-plus vendor slots. Organizers are hoping that the 15,000 free ride tickets given to area schoolchildren will encourage even more families to enjoy the event.
“The Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Wendell has never worked so hard to make the festival as big and as exciting as it is,” Harmon said.
The festival provides a host of attractions for children, such as a bounce house, dunking booths, and the Pumpkin Derby. Wendell, Carver and Lake Myra elementary schools will have entries in an art show, with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prizes handed out for each school.
Adults will find attractions suited to their tastes too, including handmade jewelry, pottery and artwork for sale, John Deere tractors on display and even an on-site blacksmith working and selling his wares. The festival will also host the kickoff of a gun raffle from Perry’s Gun Shop
Food vendors will have hot dogs, hamburgers, gyros, pitas and cupcakes, as well as the festival favorites: snow-cones, funnel cakes and cotton candy.
Entertainment will include live performances from choir groups, dance groups and The Embers, as well as martial arts demonstrations and a magic show.
Festival goers are invited to line Main Street to enjoy the Harvest Parade on Saturday. Leamon Strickland, owner of Strickland’s Jewelers, and Elizabeth Henry, owner of Elizabeth’s Antiques, will be the grand marshals for the parade, which will include dancers, bands, fire trucks, tractors and floats from local businesses.
The Pumpkin Derby event on Saturday is open to all ages who want to try their hand at high-speed garden racing. Participants will transform ordinary pumpkins into racing machines and pit them against one another in competitions of speed. For rules and registration visit www.wendellchamber.com.
The East Wake Education Foundation will again host their golf ball drop at the festival. They hope to sell between 1,000 and 1,200 tickets for the fundraising event, according to Linda Johnson, executive director of the foundation. The golf ball drop certainly draws a lot of attention in the festival, and Johnson appreciates the opportunity the festival affords to channel that attention toward their cause.
“It gives us a lot of exposure to families,” she said. “You’d think that everyone would have heard about us, but you get a lot of young families coming to the festival because it’s fun.”
And speaking of causes, stop by one of several nonprofit booths, including the Red Hat Society and a three-legged race hosted by Relay For Life.