Adults and children alike enjoyed Downtown Eau Claire’s autumnal atmosphere as they played games, visited tents, pet exotic animals and watched the Fall Festival parade. Downtown Eau Claire held the 30th International Fall Festival this past Saturday.
Although the air was chilly and skies were grey, crowds seemed to be enjoying the robust sounds of UW-Eau Claire’s marching band and smells of fried food.
Booths of all kinds lined Barstow Street and caught the attention of attendees. One featured stand was Al and Mrs. Al’s Kettle Corn. Al said he’s a long-time vender at the event.
“What I like about (Fall Festival) is there’s the young and there’s the old,” Al of Al’s Kettlekorn said about the locals who attended the festival.
Newer stands, like Threads of Hope, were just as busy as veteran stands. Threads of Hope was selling colorful handmade bracelets from the Philippines. Proceeds supported the impoverished Philippines. Joseph Noreik, a Threads of Hope representative, said it’s the organization’s second year at Fall Festival. Sales of the bracelets have made a great impact, he said.
Other featured booths included Crave 80/20 and Sky Yoga, but a variety of local businesses sold their merchandise. Many offered interactive activities. Sky Yoga, for example, let locals give aerial yoga a try by setting up a silk and mat on the street.
Also at Fall Festival was an animal petting farm with camels, goats, rabbits and ponies. Other activities included face painting, a bouncy house and multiple festive wooden face-cut-out boards located down the street.
The parade, which began at 3 p.m., comprised UW-Eau Claire’s marching band and choir, aspiring gymnasts, dancers, karate kids and more. At one point, LGBTQ supporters walked hand-in-hand, boasting colored flags and smiles.
Following the parade, the Blugold Marching Band performed in the Four Corners lot where Barstow Street and East Grand Avenue meet. “Take On Me,” “Dancing Queen” and “Halo” were only a few of the chartoppers the band covered for the audience.
Mouths gaped wide open at the talent and emotion the band members had in their music. Creative instrumental solos and collective rhythmic clapping drew large crowd of about 150.
In total, the Fall Festival continues to bring in new people each year and change to adapt to every individual’s need. It was nothing short of a community effort for the third decade of this occasion.
Fleming can be reached at [email protected]