By Adam McCully
This year marks the 63rd year for Clarion’s famous Autumn Leaf Festival. When the trees of Pennsylvania start to glow red, orange, and yellow, the town of Clarion lights up to welcome over 500,000 people to its renowned Autumn Leaf Festival. This year’s theme is entitled, “Autumn Through the Looking Glass” and it’s an appropriate theme since the lights, colors, sounds, and smells of the Autumn Leaf Festival turn the town of Clarion into its very own “Wonderland”.
The festival is a nine-day extravaganza of music, food, carnival rides, parades, contest, cruise-ins and football, sponsored by the U.S. Army.
The events kick off on Friday night September 30th, with a performance by Sgt. Corrin Campbell. Corrin is a world-renowned vocalist, pianist, and bassist as well as an active duty member of the United States Army. Aside from her talent, the performer is unique in the fact that she’s the only original music artist to be endorsed by the United States Armed Forces.
The Volunteers will also be performing at the festival. Since the U.S. Army’s Field Band formed in 1981, they’ve been telling the story of the Armed Forces through rock, pop, country, and patriotic music. The bands soldier-musicians have performed for millions of listeners in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, Kuwait, and Iraq.
been telling the story of the Armed Forces through rock, pop, country, and patriotic music. The bands soldier-musicians have performed for millions of listeners in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, Kuwait, and Iraq.
Musically inclined yourself? Make sure to register for the PA State Old Time Fiddler’s Contest, which will be held Saturday, September 24th at the First United Methodist Church on 600 Wood Street. Not just for “fiddler’s”, this competition is also open to guitar players, banjo pickers, and even those handy with a mandolin. Competitors will be allowed to play three songs each, and the winners will be judged on tone quality, rhythmic accuracy, musicality, and creativity.
Crowd favorite, American Pie is signed up to perform this year as well. “Pittsburgh’s favorite oldies band” will be performing hits from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s that include artists like The Beatles, Van Morrison, Elvis Presley, and Billy Joel.
The Autumn Leaf Festival coincides with Clarion University’s homecoming week. The events of the week will culminate with the big Tournament of Leaves Parade on Saturday, October 1st at noon. This time-honored parade features marching bands, floats and many community organizations. At 2 p.m. the action will move to Clarion’s Memorial Stadium where Clarion’s Golden Eagles will take on the Edinboro Fighting Scots.
During the nine-day festival, also look for the Auto-Rama Cruise-In and the Motorcycle Show on Sunday, September 25th from 12 pm – 4 pm. Another popular event, Farmers and Crafters Day, will take place on Friday, September 30th in downtown Clarion from 5 pm – 8 pm. It’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular events the festival has to offer, with homemade crafts and good being sold by over 300 vendors. Whether you’re looking for home décor, that special gift, or just some good eats, Farmers and Crafters Day has something for everyone.
This year the festival will feature an antique tractor show for all you farm aficionados. The show will be held on Sunday, October 2nd from 12 pm – 5 pm between 2nd and 5th Avenue on Main Street. Trophies will be awarded in several classes and live entertainment will be provided by “Next O’Kin”.
The Autumn Leaf Festival comes packed with plenty of events for the kids. The Junior Olympics will be help on Sunday, October 2nd from 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm at the Clarion University Memorial Stadium. This event invites children between the ages of 5-12 who live or attend school in Clarion County to participate in four different events, the Standing Long Jump, The Dash, The Softball Throw, and the Modified Javelin Throw. Medals will be given to the top three performers in each field.
There will also be a “Kiddies Parade” and “Touch-a-Truck”, where kids of all ages have a chance to get behind the wheel of big rigs, firetrucks, construction vehicles and more. This event takes place on Saturday, September 24th and is completely free!
A-L-F, as the locals say, officially opens in downtown Clarion on September 24th and runs through October 2nd. For up-to-date information and a complete schedule of events check out the festival’s link at ClarionPA.com or call the Clarion Area Chamber at (814) 226-9161.