The Hinsdale Fall Festival: Changing with the Season
September 26, 2018
Several years ago, a small group of people gathered around coffee and, of course, delicious treats at Sweet Memories to discuss and plan a fall event: an event that we anticipated would help a family in need. The Hinsdale Fall Festival was the brainchild of those individuals, many of whom have contributed time and energy each year. The festival was born to decorate and celebrate our community during the fall months. It has grown to include a variety of games, vendors, food, competitions and live music, and been enjoyed by all ages, as it offers something for everyone.
In the beginning, the chili contest was the Hinsdale Fall Festival main event. We began with tables of chili for attendees to sample. People brought new or “tried and true” recipes. We have tasted all varieties over the years, from wild and spicey to chicken and white bean.
In addition to the chili contest, we encouraged individuals and groups to decorate Hinsdale’s Main Street, with prizes awarded for the most elaborate hay bales, creative scarecrows, and repurposed pallets. These objects have filled otherwise empty spaces and added interest to our little town.
The above-mentioned activities have drawn crowds and we have enjoyed five years of fantastic family fun. But, we have reached a point of necessary change.
The original purpose of the contests was to raise money in support of a specific cause. Often these causes were unadvertised, as we felt they were personal and sometimes done as an unexpected blessing for the recipient(s). In five years, we have given to four families to help with medical costs or the expenses incurred after a loved one was lost We have donated to the Hinsdale School library, in hopes of making it more inviting and user-friendly. Finally, we replaced the splintering tables and benches in Hinsdale’s Legion Park. All of these were well received and went to good use.
After five years, we recognize the successes, but also the unintended consequences. In 2017, we had great food options, including fry bread, grilled hot dogs and traveling tacos. The food vendors are a welcome addition and certainly contribute to a festive atmosphere with aromas that attract hungry attendees. Yet, with these options, fewer people choose to chili-taste or purchase chili by-the-bowl from the previous champion, both of which make the charitable gifts possible.
For those in attendance in 2017, most would agree that Hinsdale School students provided an array of games, treats and contests that entertained the crowds, including pudding eating and minnow racing. Several home-based businesses have been to the festival with varying degrees of success, but some have made it an annual show and find a loyal customer following. However, the minimal vendor fees pay for advertising and building rental (when weather forces us indoors), contributing very little to the charitable cause.
So, Hinsdale’s Fall Festival has morphed into a success in many regards and provided an afternoon of family entertainment, yet no longer provides the opportunity to give as it once did. For the 2018 Hinsdale Fall Festival, on Sunday, Oct. 7, from 1 to 4 p.m., at the Legion Park, attendees may buy a slice of pie from the Pie Contest and bid on handmade silent auction items. These are the new avenues of giving to a family in our community who recently suffered the loss of a loved one.
We hope you will add the Hinsdale Fall Festival to your calendar of events. Plan to join us Sunday the 7th for an afternoon of food, family fun and friendly competition. If you are interested in entering the pie contest or donating a handmade item for auction, would like a vendor spot reserved, or for further questions, please contact Kristine Bowman (text is best) at 406.263.5490.