The annual festival that graces the streets of downtown Mt. Vernon is gearing up for this year’s event, themed, “My Hometown.” Running September 30 through October 2nd, the festival provides a multitude of free and low cost entertainment for the community and surrounding towns. Highlights of the festival include a Kid Zone, which organizers have planned to expand this year.
“We did not contract a carnival,” stated Dana Barnum, Kid Zone chair, “Consensus was that it took up a lot of room and provided short term entertainment for families who could afford it. We thought we could utilize that space and provide things that families could spend more time enjoying for lower cost, or free with sponsorships.”
The Kid Zone will be primarily located at the corner of 9th Street and Casey Avenue in the grassy area formerly occupied by the carnival. Attractions slated to be available include a playground area presented by Continental Tire made from tires, laser Tag, nine large inflatable combinations, four carnival type games, face painting and a stage with walk around entertainers.
PawFest is another area of the festival that has expanded through the years. What began as an endeavor to promote a local rescue, Mama V’s Puppy Sanctuary, has grown into an adoption opportunity and fundraiser for the rescue as well as Vet Your Pet, a local initiative that raises funds to provide low cost shots and vouchers for spay and neutering of pets. PawFest, previously hosted only on Sunday, will now add Saturday too with agility demonstrations, K-9 demos, a reptile show, training demo, games for people and pets and more. Local favorites like the blessing of the pets, tricks and costume contests and the Pet Parade will still be held on Sunday as well.
Mt. Vernon Fall Fest is an endeavor of Mt. Vernon Festivals, Inc. a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization made up primarily of volunteers who put on events in Mt. Vernon for the community. The events and activities are put on by donations and sponsorships.
“We’re still actively seeking donations and sponsorships to meet our fundraising goals,” MV Festivals president Jason Hulbert commented. “There are still a number of prime naming opportunities available in many price ranges.”
More than 30,000 visitors embark on downtown Mt. Vernon to enjoy the Fall Fest, making sponsorship a tremendous opportunity for local and regional businesses. And since most of the event is free to the public, these sponsorships are very important.
This year, the headlining entertainment for the Fall Fest is Drew Baldridge for Shriner’s Hospitals for Children. Drew is a Patoka, Ill. native and an up-and-comer on the country charts. Baldridge made his debut at the Grand Ole Opry in June of this year and has already been back for an encore performance. His album, Dirt on Us, released June 10th. Baldridge has chosen Fall Fest as his Philanthropic concert of the year which means he will be selling special t-shirts to raise money for the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children. There is no ticket cost for the event as Mt. Vernon Festivals has covered all entertainment costs for Drew as well as the other artists scheduled for the weekend.Those artists include: American Lion and Trixie Delight on Friday, F-150, Amelia Eisenhauer and the Eisenhauer Band on Saturday and Janice Gaines, Cody Byrns and Jeff Bates on Sunday for the Main Stage and Circus Ridiculous and Mr. Puppet for smaller stages throughout the weekend.
Other events for the weekend include a 100+ entry parade, a 5K for Special Olympics, a Vendors Marketplace with local and regional eats as well as crafts, clothing, handmade goods, a Fall Fest Pageant, Great Pumpkin Contest, Tri-State treasure hunt, a Cruise-In, helicopter rides and more.
“We do want to thank everyone who has stepped up and provided a sponsorship so far whether cash or in-kind,” Lisa Damron, MV Festivals Vice President added. “Without partners and volunteers, this festival could not happen. We appreciate them greatly and hope we can add several more to the list of who we are thanking.”
“We are proud to offer free concerts, parking and admission to the festival—something that is not the case in many other communities around us,” Hulbert concluded. “We can only do that because of the generous sponsorships from local businesses and organizations who see the benefit of our mission to put on this excellent event for the community.”
For more information about Fall Fest events and sponsorships call 618-242-3151 or visit facebook.com/mtvfallfest.