• By Vanessa Seitz, Midway Correspondent

Midway News and Views

“It’s where I learned about living It’s where I learned about love It’s where I learned about working hard And having a little was just enough” Boondocks - Little Big Town Sitting on the rock wall by the railroad track with my kids Saturday night, watching the sunset, I could almost hear this song’s melody drifting into the warm, heady air. The intoxicating smell of kettle corn blending with pulled pork and funnel cakes, intertwined with laughter and music and lights and energy, teased visitors arriving at the 44th annual Midway Fall Festival.

The always quaint and charming Main Street was transformed with pop-up tents for craft vendors and food trucks as thousands of visitors packed the street over the festival weekend.

“We’ve never had these many booths,” said Leslie Penn, owner of the Historic Midway Gift Store, along with husband Bill. “This started as an antique show forty years ago, and now...” She trailed off, gesturing to the booths outside her brick and mortar store that seemingly sprang up overnight, showcasing local crafts.

“The Community Activism Class at Woodford High School was amazing. They came in on Friday night and helped vendors set up and unload in the bank parking lot – there were some 80 booths there,” said Elisha Holt, event coordinator for the festival. “We could not have asked for better help with vendor set up.”

Chandler McFarland and Anna Manges, both seniors at WCHS, were two such volunteers. “Our community activism class was volunteering at the Midway Fall Festival to help support the future projects the class puts on,” explained Chandler. “In the past, the class has done the Spark Café, which is now its own organization. Last year we did Activate Café and plan on doing something similar this year.” The Midway Business Association donates money to the class as a thank you for their help at the festival.

Holt was most excited about the extended hours for this year’s festival and the comments from visitors this year. “I got to drive the shuttle for several hours today, shuttling people to and from their cars, and got to talk to a lot of people. Some had never been to Midway but saw the social media posts and came to check it out. Some people I talked to were from as far away as Mt. Sterling and Fort Mitchell, as well as locals, and most said they want to some back another time and check out the stores,” she said.

“I’m grateful to so many people,” Holt continued, “The Midway Business Association puts on the event, but we couldn’t do it without the assistance of the City of Midway, the mayor and the city council members,” Holt added.

We chatted in the midst of the festival, as people continued to browse the booths and get food and drinks at one of the many vendors there.

“Look around,” Holt said. “It’s 7:30 p.m. and there are still people shopping, hanging out, enjoying the evening. We gave vendors the choice, they could close at 6 p.m. or stay open.”

Carol Pope, co-owner of Mezzo’s with her husband Rick, was enjoying a third year as a food vendor at the festival. A large tent in front of their Midway restaurant sold mimosas, Bloody Mary’s, homemade red sangria and beers. “We sold out of pizza,” said Pope. “We made 250 pizzas this morning for the festival and they are all gone!”

Tammy Raglin, owner of “Sweet T’s” food truck, was at the festival for the first time. “It’s tough to get a vendor spot. I tried last year but they were all sold out by March 1,” said Raglin. “It’s been a good weekend. We try to give you the kind of food you would get from home… fresh ingredients – people can taste that.” Raglin’s food truck had sold out of some 90 brisket fries, 150 catfish and 200 chili dogs by Saturday evening, and was planning on the same for Sunday.

Holt added several new food vendors this year to keep up with demand. “West Sixth are here, and Country Boy Brewing. We have one food truck guy – Tony Sharp – he brings four food trucks all the way from Indianapolis just for the festival,” said Holt. Local food vendors included Addie’s, 2 Ladies and a Kettle, and Crank and Boom.

Attendee Aminda Davis said the best thing about the festival was “the bourbon lemonade. It’s that good.” And sisters Anngeli Son, 9, and Bailey Son, 6, said, “We loved the funnel cakes. And the face painting!”

Craft vendors included Tater Knob Pottery, with artist demos, Bluegrass Maple Syrup sorghum makers, basket weavers, The Shepherd’s Creations Alpaca Farm (which brought their alpacas), Laury Gardiner with her watercolors, Bird Hat Beard Oil, and Open Window Scents soap makers.

Tony and Ladonna Durham of the Georgetown-based Open Window Scents were at the fall festival for their third year. Ladonna Durham makes the soaps from all-natural ingredients blended with coconut, palm and olive oil out of her home in two crock pots in her kitchen, making 50 bars of soap at a time. “I currently make 31 different scents, kind of like Baskin Robbins,” laughed Durham. “Right now, popular scents are pumpkin and apple, or cherry almond.” Durham estimates twenty percent of her annual income comes from sales at the festival and more later from festival-goers checking out her website or Facebook page.

The biggest change this year was the extended hours on Saturday to 10 p.m. Country Boy Brewing from Georgetown sponsored the music stage that evening, with local bands “RC and the Nightshades” playing at 5 p.m. and “Trippin’ Roots” at 7 p.m. A sizeable crowd gathered to listen outside Darlin’ Jean’s restaurant on the Country Boy Brewing stage.

Brenda Kullander of Country Boy Brewing explained why they wanted to sponsor the festival in such a big way. “We love this small town and the opportunity to showcase these crafts from local artists. We, at Country Boy, are all about local and want to promote these local artists as much as we can,” said Kullander. “The company founders are all local and built the company from the ground up. We want to support our local small towns and artists.”

Launched again for the fall season at the festival was Country Boy Brewing’s seasonal beer “Bumpkin Ale”, along with other crowd favorites strawberry kiwi cider and other beers.

The festival drew several thousand visitors to town, with the larger crowd on Saturday. It was deemed a great success, except for an issue with an electrical transformer that overheated on Saturday afternoon, leaking hot oil. The leak on the corner of Main and Gratz streets led to power being shut off for about 45 minutes whilst utility workers fixed the problem. Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said, “Because of too many users (vendors) in such a small area, a transformer began to overheat and leaked hot oil onto a city street. KU replaced the transformer within the hour and the users who lost power regained it quickly.”

Vandegrift did have concerns about the number of vendors at the event. “The festival organizers did a wonderful job overall. The festival was still a success, but organizers have agreed to scale the size back next year, and I’m certain that the festival will continue to be one of the best in Kentucky,” he said.

What a weekend! And what an event! Again, walking around downtown Midway Saturday night, I was blown away by our community and how everyone came together, worked hard and enjoyed enough of our small town to make memories that will last long after the last tunes from Trippin’ Roots faded on the breeze of the last weekend of summer.

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