Parade, music and more on tap for Festival of Leaves

FRONT ROYAL – The 47th annual Festival of Leaves returns to downtown Front Royal on Saturday.

Susan Jeffery, business manager for the Warren Heritage Society, said she’s really looking forward to this year’s festival. “We have over 140 vendors participating, with many of them being local businesses. Anything you can imagine will be here on Main Street.”

Founded in 1971, the Festival of Leaves is the society’s annual fundraiser. It was originally crafted as an event to draw tourism from  Skyline Drive, Jeffery explained. Forty-seven years later, the Festival of Leaves draws over 25,000 persons each year.

With a list of activities that includes a parade and live entertainment beginning at 9 a.m., a car show at 10 a.m. and a children’s corner, the festival draws everyone from country music fans to apple butter lovers.

“It really is an event for the whole family,” Jeffery said. “For one day our Main Street is converted into a downtown walking mall.”

Vendors include those selling arts and crafts, jewelry, soaps and lotions. Local nonprofits and schools will be participating, and food vendors will be onsite dishing up local favorites. Music fans can indulge in the sounds of bluegrass, blues, country and jazz.

Festivalgoers are also encouraged to take part in Heritage Square on the grounds of Warren Heritage Society. Tours of historic homes include  Belle Boyd Cottage and 18th century Balthis House. There also will be reenactors, living history demonstrations and apple butter making. Admission to the local museums are waived for the event.

The festival takes place in historical downtown Front Royal, on Chester and Main Streets. Gates open at 9 a.m. Admission is free.

“We encourage people to come learn about the heritage within our community,” Jeffery said. “But more importantly, we just want people to come out and enjoy the day.”

On Sunday, there will be a 5K marathon and half marathon. For more information, visit www.rev3adventure.com