Weather cooperates for Warner foliage festival
WARNER -- Saturday's chilly weather brought only a few thousand people to the 66th annual Warner Fall Foliage Festival, causing worry among festival organizers about Sunday's turnout.
But Sunday's brighter skies brought out bigger crowds, perhaps the largest one-day turnout the event has ever seen, according to organizer Joan Saunders.
"We've never filled both of our parking areas before, this may be the largest," Saunders announced to the crowd as the parade began.
"We've got north of 10,000 here today," festival president Sean Bohman said Sunday night. "It's a huge turnout. After Saturday, this is very nice to see."
Attendance is especially important to this festival. It has been run by volunteers since 1947, when locals needed to hold a benefit for local victims of a flood, said Jim Bingham, town administrator.
Since then, it has featured events, such as Sunday's Woodsman Competition, and lots of tents with area craftsmen selling their work, and carnival-type contests and rides. It's always run by volunteers, and all the money raised goes to local charities and groups, such as the library, the community center and the Warner Youth Soccer Association, which had an entry in the festival's parade downtown.
The festival isn't really about the changing leaves, it's a celebration of the town, and a critical fundraising mechanism for town needs and services.
"It's called the foliage festival, but it's really more about the time of year when we always hold it, during foliage season," Bingham said.
There were lots of foliage-themed floats in the parade, and at the face-painting tables, girls and boys were getting leaves painted on their face. That event benefited the Warner Cooperative Preschool, said face-painter and local resident Karen Remick.
This year's event was moved to the downtown area from its traditional place at the Simonds Elementary School because of work being done on the school's grounds.
The Woodsman Competition was moved to the bottom of Mill Street. There, Katie Noyes of Bedford, formerly a member of the University of New Hampshire's Woodsmen Team, was at one end of a long saw, beating the competition at another log beside her.
"I love this festival. I always come here because it's the perfect time of year," Noyes said. "Everybody here is always so calm and happy, and everyone kind of knows it's the last thing we'll be doing this year, it's the last part of the season for activities like this."