What once was a small-town affair with a greased pig contest and German bands has now become a destination for thousands of folks and hundreds of artisans from around the country.
The Frankfort Fall Festival runs from Thursday through Monday in downtown Frankfort and features the renowned arts and crafts fair plus a parade, "Thriller" flash mobs, a car show, carnival and entertainment. The free event is presented by the Frankfort Chamber of Commerce and represents 30 civic groups.
"We have a variety of things for everybody in the family," said Colleen Mora, festival chairwoman and a volunteer for 11 years. "There's the carnival for kids, the arts and crafts fair for folks who like to shop for things that are handmade, plus live entertainment on the green and in the beer tent and a food court."
The highlight of the festival is the juried arts and crafts fair showcasing glassware, metalwork, wood crafts and pottery as well as candles, jewelry, clothing and accessories. The fair will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday.
"The festival is a higher-end craft show in the beautiful downtown setting of Frankfort with a lot of variety and good food and good music," said Kim Lotton, wife and business partner of second-generation glass artist David Lotton.
The Lottons, who owned a 5-acre farm and home studio in Frankfort before relocating to Lowell, Ind., undertake the very delicate task of packing, transporting, unpacking and displaying 80 to 100 vases, sculptures, pendants and paperweights each day of the festival.
"We do it mainly to support the town since we'd been there 15 years," she said.
Other festival highlights include the parade and car show on Sunday. The 100-unit parade reflecting this year's theme of "Frankfort's Fright Festival — It's a Thriller" will step off at 1 p.m. from the Borg Warner parking lot and travel along Pacific, Oak, Utah, Ash and Nebraska, before returning to the Borg Warner lot via Locust Street.
The winner of the kids' costume contest at 1:15 p.m. Saturday will get to ride on a float.
Throughout the weekend, whenever Michael Jackson's song "Thriller" is broadcast, festival volunteers will break out into the popular dance.
"We have learned the dance, and volunteers will be spread out amongst the fest," said Mora, who came up with the flash mob idea. "We wanted something fun to tie the theme in."
The Frankfort Car Club's annual exhibition will be from 2 to 5 p.m. on the north side of Elwood Street.
The festival also will have a daily carnival and weekend entertainment. The carnival is in the recently paved lot at Kansas and White streets and sponsored by the Frankfort Firefighters Association. It is open from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday; 5 to 9:30 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday. Unlimited rides for $20 will be available Thursday.
The entertainment tent will feature Five Guys Named Moe on Friday, Leadfoot and Midlife Crisis on Saturday, Timing's Everything and Funhouse on Sunday and the Bishop's Daredevil Stunt Club on Monday. Admission is $5 or $2 before 6 p.m. The beer tent is open until 11 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday and to 5 p.m. Monday.
On Thursday, the Frankfort Lions Club will host its 32nd annual Sweepstakes Dance and Drawing at 7 p.m. in the entertainment tent. First prize is $10,000. Tickets are $25 at the gate.
Festival parking is available at La Grange Road and Nebraska Street and at Peace Community Church, 130 S. La Grange Road. A $10 donation to Frankfort Boy Scout Troop 270 is requested. Handicapped parking is available at the Trolley Barn, Nebraska Street and Center Road, with a requested donation of $10 for the Frankfort Dog Park Organization. Shuttle bus service will be provided from the lots to the festival area from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday.
White Street will be closed to traffic to provide a pedestrian thoroughfare from the carnival to craft areas.
For more information, call (815) 469-3356 or go to http://www.frankfortfallfestival.info.