Music, games, fun highlight weekend festival
Edwardsville resident Angie Giron has attended the Edwardsville AutumnFest in the past but this year something was different.
She said she’s never stayed at the festival for very long in previous years, but this year, twin sons Anthony and Angelo were geared up for the event that continues to see growth every year.
“This time my boys are into it so we’re here … this year it’s like, let’s go, we’re doing it, we’re getting wristbands (for the carnival rides), we’re doing this. They’re excited,” Giron said.
It was easy to feel a growing excitement for the festival this year as the event itself grew.
In its 21st year, the Edwardsville AutumnFest was a big hit said lead event organizer Phyllis Freeman.
“It was great. It really was,” she said. “It was absolutely fantastic.”
This year’s AutumnFest started Friday, Sept. 17, with a free concert by The Groove Pilots and continued Saturday, Sept. 18, with a variety of family-friendly activities in Edwardsville’s city center.
Celia Mohler, of Edwardsville, said she and her family have attended the festival almost every year. She said it was a good way to feel more included in the community.
“We’re part of the neighborhood, so you’ve gotta come out for the neighborhood,” Mohler said. “We like just to come out and visit with the neighbors and see what’s going on. It’s a neighborhood social function.”
For Bonner Springs resident Corby Malec and his wife, Vickie, this year was the first year the two had attended the festival in a long time. Corby Malec said he hadn’t been to the festival for awhile, but had brought his grandchildren this year to enjoy the festivities.
“It’s a fun thing to take the grandkids to,” said Vickie Malec.
Freeman said the parade and carnival rides were especially popular among the many families who attended the event.
“The kids had a great time on the rides and the parade was just phenomenal,” she said. “The people that came out just made my day.”
All the events went off without a hitch, Freeman said, until about 6 p.m. when Mother Nature moved rain into the area. Freeman said the karaoke stage and the Classic Revolution concert continued as planned, but the band Scooter Trash had to cancel its performance for fear of the rain ruining the sound equipment.
“Everything was going super well until Mother Nature decided we needed a bath,” Freeman said.
The AutumnFest committee plans to reschedule the Scooter Trash concert, Freeman said, to a later date, which has yet to be determined.
“We still want to give that to the community,” Freeman said.
As for the barbecue contest, which was sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society for the first time this year, organizer Mark Bishop said he couldn’t be happier with the turnout.
There were 20 teams in the competition, including one team that traveled from as far as Winnipeg, Manitoba, a state in Canada.
“Everybody had a really good time,” Bishop said. “I talked to all the teams and every one of them is coming back next year.”
Bishop also heard from the Kansas City Barbecue Society, which attends all sanctioned events to provide feedback, that it expected the contest to include as many as 40 to 50 cookers next year.
The winners of the AutumnFest barbecue contest are as follows:
• Grand champion: Porky McBeef and The Clucker, Dave Elliott, Olathe
• Reserve champion: Burning Sensations BBQ, Mike Seufert, Leavenworth
• First place chicken: Mad Hogs and an Englishman, Jim Belt, Linwood
• First place ribs: Burning Sensations BBQ, Mike Seufert, Leavenworth
• First place pork: Burnt Finger BBQ, Jason Day, Lee’s Summit, Mo.
• First place beef: Rubbin’ Rumps, Jud Knapp, Edwardsville
— Chieftain reporter Melissa Treolo contributed to this story.