Front Royal welcomes fall with annual festival

The Warren Heritage Society continues its annual Festival of Leaves fundraiser for the 46th year on Saturday.

The festival takes place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in historic downtown Front Royal on Chester and Main streets.

Patrick Farris, executive director of the Warren Heritage Society, said the festival has been going on since 1971 and is always held on the second Saturday in October. It draws over 20,000 people to Front Royal on that day.

“It remains the largest outdoor festival in Warren County,” he said.

He added that the heritage society holds the festival for two major reasons. The first is for public education – to make the public aware of the history and heritage of Warren County. The second reason is that, because the festival is their largest annual fundraiser, it allows the heritage society to maintain the level of programming, exhibits and upkeep of the buildings on their campus.

He said live music, including bluegrass, blues, country, jazz, big band and choir music will be played at the gazebo in the center of town all day long.  All through town, the streets will be lined with local and out-of-state vendors selling crafts and foods, he said. Service organizations from the local community will also be handing out information about their groups.

“The festival is a great place to come shop for a nifty item with our vendors; however, it’s also a great place to get to know your community better,” he said.

At Heritage Square on the Warren Heritage Society grounds, he said visitors can tour museums and historic homes, such as the Ivy Lodge, Belle Boyd Cottage and the18th century Balthis House free of charge.

He added that re-enactors will be present at Heritage Square, including someone who will be making traditional apple butter.

A parade will be held at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Stonewall Drive and Luray Avenue in front of Warren County Middle School and disbands at the Warren County Government Center. He said over 30 entrants will be part of the parade, which includes fire trucks, pageant winners, high school bands, childre’s groups, church groups and Republican and Democratic organizations.

“The parade is always fun to watch,” he said.

New to the festival this year is a car show held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Chester Street side of the E. Wilson Morrison Elementary teacher’s parking area.

For a schedule of events, visit the Warren Heritage Society website at http://tiny.cc/dxgmfy.

Children will also have fun at the children’s corner in the town commons.

On Sunday,  a 10K race and the Shenandoah Leaf Peeper half marathon will start at 7:30 a.m. at Skyline High School.  A 5K starts at 7:45 a.m., followed by a post-race pie from The Apple House at 8:15 a.m. for all race finishers.

The 5K awards will be presented at 8:30 a.m. followed by 10K awards at 9 a.m. and half marathon awards at 10 a.m.

For a detailed race schedule, visit http://tiny.cc/gfxmfy.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com