Falling Leaves Festival preparations shaping up with month to go

Preparations for this year’s Salamanca Seneca Falling Leaves Festival are nearly complete with the three-day event set for four weeks from Friday. The organizers will be meeting Tuesday, Sept. 10 at city hall. Those interested in volunteering are invited to attend.

SALAMANCA — The 42nd annual Salamanca Seneca Falling Leaves Festival is shaping up to be another promising fall event in the city as organizers continue to plan for the beloved tradition.

This year’s festival, hosted by the city and the Seneca Nation of Indians and organized by a group of community volunteers, will run Friday, Oct. 4 through Sunday, Oct. 6 in Jefferson Street Park and the downtown area.

Organizers of the annual tradition have been meeting throughout the summer to discuss what they have planned for the three-day weekend, which is to be packed with many things to see and do, both favorites from last year and new to attendees this year.

“We’re just about ready to go,” said Kathy Sarver, a member of the organizing committee. “We’ve got entertainment lined up for all three days.”

Kicking off the festival Friday night, Empire State Wrestling will return for the fifth straight year, providing for hours of exciting entertainment under the big tent in the middle of the park.

The highlight of the festival, however, will be the grand parade on Sunday, which will make its way down Main Street and up Broad Street through the heart of the festival. To sign up for the parade, contact parade organizer Donna Raahauge at 378-5468.

“Some of the bands from the parade are going to come back down after the parade and have entertainment in the park,” Sarver said.

The busiest day of the festival is expected to be Saturday, which will be capped off with a performance by Porcelain Bus Drivers in the park at 5 p.m.

During the day Saturday, vendors will open their booths beginning at 11 a.m., which will be for food and beverage as well as arts and crafts. Along with the food and beverage vendors, Sarver said they are planning to have a hot dog eating contest Saturday and a chili cook-off contest Sunday.

The beer tent will also be back this year, Sarver said, and for Buffalo Bills fans, the game will be playing on the big TV in the tent on Sunday.

Returning again after being a big hit when brought in for the first time last year, Sarver said the caricature artist will be back and will draw your portrait for free during select hours on Saturday.

“And we’re also doing a free photo booth on Saturday and Sunday,” she added.

For kids and families, Sarver said the free carnival rides and activities through the Salamanca Youth Center will also be back Saturday and Sunday, including a petting zoo, balloon animals, bounce house and face painting.

Throughout Saturday, the organizers plan to have live entertainment on the stage under the big tent, including a fiddling band and Native American Dancers. A live DJ will also provide music throughout the day.

While the performances go on, the organizers said they plan to keep activities going on Saturday, including “I Got It,” which Sarver said the festival had not had for several years.

Throughout Saturday, tickets will be sold for the money grab booth, one of the returning activities from last year. At 5 p.m. Sunday, several contestants will be selected from the hundreds of tickets sold to have a chance to grab a nice payout in bills in a wind tunnel booth.

The next organizational meeting of the festival committee is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 6:30 p.m. in the conference room at the Salamanca municipal building. All are invited to attend.

(Contact managing editor Kellen Quigley at kquigleysp@gmail.com)