The 50th Festival of the Turning Leaves kicks off in Thorntown on Friday, Sept. 22 and continues through Saturday, Sept. 23 and Sunday, Sept. 24.
For the 50th celebration of the Festival of the Turning Leaves, the organizers elected to pay tribute to the festival’s roots and focus on bringing the Thorntown community and community members from surrounding areas together for a day of festivities and celebrations. The festival was founded by the Society for the Preservation of Our Indian Heritage, and the Thorntown merchants partnered with the society to kick off the festivities for the community of Thorntown. When the group disbanded in the mid-1990’s, the community came together to continue the work of the society.
“We are trying to honor and pay tribute to the group that started it,” Angie Moody, Festival Coordinator, said. “It’s just one of those times where the town welcomes everybody, opens the doors up, people come in, and we’re going to enjoy and have fun. Everybody’s going to be busy.”
This year, Bluegrass Jam kicks off at 5 p.m. on Friday with a movie night to follow at 8 p.m. where families are invited to bring their chairs and blankets to bond and watch “The Super Mario Bros.” movie. Friday will conclude with a fireworks show at the park around 9:45 p.m.
Participants should prepare for a full day of events for Saturday with a kickoff at 6:30 a.m. at the Lions’ Depot for a biscuits and gravy breakfast. Events will continue at 8 a.m. with the flag-raising at the Town Hall, 8:30 a.m. with Hope for His Children 5/10K Walk/Run registration and a start of 9 a.m. for the event at the trailhead, 9 a.m. for the street fair and food court, 10 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. for the Versiti blood drive, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the Thorntown Heritage Museum, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the Sugar Creek Art Center, 10:30 a.m. for the Arni’s pizza contest at the stage area, 11 a.m. for the parade line up and judging on Mill Street and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the Backroad Revival Band.
Night owls may elect to start their day with the parade beginning at the elementary school at 1 p.m., Back Porch Pickers on the stage from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Dave’s Barrel Train Rides at the museum from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Circle City Sidewalk Stompers at the museum at 3:30 p.m., Country Summer Band at the stage from 5:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m., trivia awards and winner announcements on the stage at 7:30 p.m. and The Woomblies Rock Orchestra on the stage from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Festivities will continue on Sunday with a biscuits and gravy breakfast at the Lions’ Depot at 6:30 a.m., the street fair and food courts from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., a community church service on the stage at 10 a.m., access to the Sugar Creek Art Center and Thorntown Heritage Museum from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., Western Boone Star Voices on the stage at 12 p.m., Touch-A-Truck on West Main Street from 12 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Talent Factory Arts and Dance at the stage area at 1 p.m., Dimestore Readers Band on the stage from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and the Retiring of Colors at 4 p.m.
“I don’t want anybody to miss anything,” Moody said. “Saturday’s our biggest day, and we’re always trying to work on building up Sunday, and I feel like we’ve got a lot of good stuff scheduled for Sunday this year, so I’m excited. I’m super excited, and hopefully everything comes together and we’ve got stuff that will keep everybody happy and want to come out again.”
Saturday will also host the 9th Annual Corn Hole Tournament at the Lions’ Depot with registration at 11 a.m., and the tournament will begin at 12 p.m. To preregister, call 765-336-2488. The Young McDonald’s Farm Kid’s Area will be held with the help of Western Boone FFA on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. The Columbus Indiana Huey will present helicopter rides on Sunday beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Fire Department. Helicopter rides are $100 for adults and $50 for children 12 and under. World War 2 and Korean War veterans may join the rides for free. Proceeds benefit Columbus Indiana Huey, a nonprofit organization for veterans and civilian volunteers.
Most of the festival events for attendees are free of cost, including the concerts on the stage, the museum, the movie in the park, the fireworks show and much more. In honor of paying tribute to the founders of the festival, organizers will be distributing souvenir wood nickels to attendees as supplies last.
“Until they run out, we’ve got souvenir wood nickels for everybody that have the Indian head from the very first festival,” Moody said. “They made plates, so we’ve got a copy of that Indian head to use since 1973.”
Moody stated that the 50th iteration of the festival is filled with new activities and surprises alongside upgraded traditional activities for families to enjoy every year.
“We’ve definitely tried to do everything to the max,” Moody said. “We’ve made the fireworks bigger–the movie, the parade, the music. For everything, we’ve started to step it up a little bit.”
Moody concluded her comments by encouraging members of every community to attend the festival for an exciting experience with loved ones and friends.
“We want to get people out and have a great time,” Moody said. “We’re hoping for great weather all weekend long.”
The festival is mainly located on Main Street and Market Street in Thorntown. Parking is available wherever attendees can find an open area.
For more information, visit the Festival of the Turning Leaves website.