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Mt. Airy fall festival welcomes guests to more spacious carnival grounds Oct. 5 and 6

By Katie V. Jones, katievjones@aim.com

12:27 PM EDT, October 3, 2013

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Mount Airy's popular fall festival will celebrate its 28th year on Oct. 5 and 6 with a major change.

Due to the construction on new sidewalks on Main Street, the festival has been moved from its Main Street location to the Mt. Air Volunteer Fire Department's carnival grounds.

The decision was met with a great response, said organizers of the event, which is sponsored by the Mt. Airy Lions and for the first time, the Mt. Airy Volunteer Fire Department's Auxiliary.

"We thought it was a wonderful idea to partner with them," said Peggy Fleming, secretary of the Auxiliary. "It's a new experience for us. Fortunately, the Lions Club has been doing the festival and have the experience. We are really supporting them and doing whatever they need us to do."

By Wednesday, there were 190 vendors registered this weekend's event.

"We have more than doubled what we usually have," said Ben Gue, chairman of the event. "A lot of the vendors said they would go there (carnival grounds) because they didn't want to set up downtown. I couldn't believe it.

"We have not turned down anyone and we still have room to expand," Gue said.

Since its start, the festival has taken place on Main Street, with vendors setting up along the sidewalks, packing up their stuff for the night rather than leave it out, then returning the next morning for the second day of the event.

"I love looking at all the different crafts and jewelry," Fleming said. "It is always nice to see what new trends are."

With more room, the festival will be able to offer some past favorite activities.

"We're bringing back hayrides and pony rides," said Gue, who is also president of the Mount Airy Lions.

The popular "cutest baby" and "best dressed pet" contests will also return after a few years hiatus.

There will be a larger children's area, Gue said, with more rides and a moon bounce. Traditional favorites like scarecrow making and pumpkin painting will still be featured.

Two stages will provide venues for musical entertainment while a demo stage will allow dancing and other demonstrations by local groups.

One major plus for the new location, Gue said, is parking. On Main Street, parking is limited and the group has had to rent shuttles to transport visitors. At the fairgrounds, the parking is free and ample.

As for next year, Gue said the committee will poll all the vendors for their thoughts on the preferable site.

"We will weigh all the pros and cons and see which way best works out," Gue said, of the festival's next location. "It depends on how everyone feels."

The Mount Airy Fall Festival will take place at the Mt. Airy Volunteer Fireman's Carnival Grounds at the corner of Route 27 and Twin Arch Road in Mount Airy on Oct. 5 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Oct. 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.