Maple Leaf adds event

Leaves are changing and banners are headlining downtown Baldwin City, signaling it will soon be time for the Maple Leaf Festival.

This annual festival, which begins Oct. 18, will be Baldwin’s 51st.

“I think it’s going to be just as big as it always is,” Annie France, vice chair of the Maple Leaf Festival planning committee, said. This year’s Maple Leaf, however, will welcome a new event to its agenda. The Maple Leaf Pageant will be making its debut at 7 p.m. Oct. 18 in the Baldwin Junior High School auditorium.

“Erin Jackson-Legris, the pageant director, contacted us about wanting to join forces with a local fall festival, which would want to have a pageant. And of course, this pageant leads up to Miss Kansas and potentially Miss America,” France said. “She explained that it was a scholarship pageant, and we already have two scholarships that we give out, so this was kind of a nice fit.”

Although the committee got a late start on promoting the pageant, France said it’s being perceived well and has attracted many contestants.

The annual parade, which begins at 11 a.m. Oct. 18, will follow the same path as last year. It will start going west on High Street and then travel north on Sixth Street. The theme of the parade is “Leaves of Change.”

“This is an election year, so we have an abundance of politicians, but that’s a good thing,” Parade Chair Sheri Caldwell said.

The grand marshals will be Rick Weaver, Baker University head men’s basketball coach, and Danny McMillen, a Baldwin City resident.

Caldwell said her favorite part of the festival is having people come to town to look at all of the colorful trees.

Adjunct Instructor of Education Amy Wintermantel used to live at Tenth and High streets and fondly remembers joking with her family about charging to use the bathroom when they came to town for the festival.

“I also like walking down the middle of the street and seeing all of the sights,” she said.

France said the package, as a whole, is what she enjoys most about Maple Leaf weekend.

“It’s the cold brisk morning when we’re setting everything up knowing that by noon this thing has got a life of it’s own,” she said. “Friday afternoon it looks like some people just left some stuff out in the road and then by Saturday at noon it’s like ‘Where did this come from?’ It just kind of happens and completely transforms.”