First Fall Fun Festival a success
BOWLING GREEN—Everything started to happen early last Saturday as the owners and staff of Prairie’s Edge Garden Center prepared for their fist ever Fall Fun Day on the Prairie.
The vendors showed up early, even before Sara Dean arrived at 6:20 a.m., they were already there.
“I said they could start setting up at 7,” she said. The festival was supposed to start at 9 a.m., but people had started arriving before 8:30 a.m. looking for bargains from Prairie’s Edge and the more than 30 vendors who had set up out front. Dean, one of the store managers, or as owner Tonya Teasley likes to call her, her “partner in chaos,” thought up the idea of starting the fall tradition to coincide with the start of fall and the opening of their corn maze and pumpkin patch.
Dean had arranged for 35 vendors to set up along the parking area. Almost all of them made the trip.
“I thought if we had 10 or 15 vendors we’d be doing good,” she said. “But it’s been just crazy out here.” Next time, she noted, she will try and get more food vendors to come. Her family set up a booth with a grill, but they kept running out of food during the day.
“They are all local artisans and craft people,” Dean said, as she walked the vendor area to see if they needed anything. She was taking a break from working behind the counter inside the shop, where she and the other staff were doing their best to stay up with huge number of customers who had come out to do a lot of shopping.
In addition to the corn maze there was a straw maze and track with peddle tractors for the kids. Games, a corn sandbox, and a petting zoo were also available. People who paid to get lost in the corn maze could also go on a hayride around the maze. The maze is always cut into the shape of Pike County, with the interior pathways taking on a different theme each year.
The weather was just about perfect—it was bright and sunny, with a good breeze. Everything was laid out for good customer flow through the vendor area, the store and the activity area. A few days before the festival, Tonya said she had hoped that they would get a good crowd to come out. They got the crowd. In fact they had far more than they anticipated. The parking lot filled quickly and then the cars started to line the gravel drive going up to the store. By 10:30 a.m. they were parked on both sides nearly to the Ayerco Truck Plaza, which reduced the road to one lane and made getting to the festival and adventure in itself.
Luckily, Tonya’s husband, Bennie, took charge of the situation and began directing traffic at the bottleneck.
Tonya’s parents, Jimmy and Charlotte Adams were there, marveling at what was taking place.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Jimmy. “It’s unreal. This is as big as a farm sale.” And Jimmy should know. He’s been a farmer most of his life. He owns a farm in the Frankford area, where Tonya is from originally. Jimmy said he spotted Tonya earlier but she was so busy she didn’t have time to talk right then. “She knows what she’s doing, but boy it’s stressful all this work.”
A myriad of children were enjoying the various activities. There was a cost to walk the corn maze and for the hayride, but all the other activities were free.
Bennie’s parents were there, as well, Frank and Betty Teasley.
“It’s such a wonderful turnout,” Betty said. “I’m so thankful they’ve had such a great turnout. I had no idea they would draw a crowd like this.”
Frank said he bought the farm where Prairie’s Edge is located in 1988. When they arrived that morning, said it took them a while to get up the drive to the store’s parking lot, too.
Tonya came out to check on things and said she was truly pleased with the turnout. The festival was scheduled to run until 4 p.m.
Most of the vendors were having a good day, as well. J.R. Jansen with Mr. Creative’s Custom Gifts, said he had a lot of customers so far that day. He produces wood carvings using a laser cutter that can recreate a photo onto a piece of wood.
Jansen said he had signed up for other festivals this year, but they all had been canceled. This was the first one he’s been able set up at this year. He noted that he sometimes sets up at the farmer’s market in Fulton.