Big pumpkins arrive at Autumn on Parade

Big Mama and Twaddle Butt have arrived in downtown Oregon, just in time for this weekend’s Autumn on Parade festival.

The giant pumpkins are cozied up on a straw bed with a cornstalks backdrop in the middle of the the 100 block of South Fifth Street, between the old Ogle County Courthouse and the Ogle County Judicial Center.

The Atlantic giants, raised by Theresa and Keith Miller of Stillman Valley, tip the scales at 871.5 and 701.6 pounds.

The popular 2-day AOP festival starts is this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 2-3, in downtown Oregon. It returns after last year’s event was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Crafts and collectibles, a parade with marching bands and floats, strolling entertainers and lots of good treats to eat are just some of the staples of this year’s festival.

The theme for the popular two-day event is “Rockin’ 50 Years”, marking the festival’s 50th anniversary. To celebrate that milestone, the all-volunteer AOP committee has added a new attraction – a beer garden with live bands.

The beer garden, sponsored by Martin & Company Excavating, will be on Saturday only, in the 100 block of South Jefferson Street between Third and Fourth streets. You must be 21 to enter. A $5 cover charge will be collected, which will include the first beverage.

Local band Burn N’ Bush will be performing from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., followed by another local favorite, Blue Steel, from 3 to 6 p.m.

The heart of the festival is the Farmers Market and Craft Fair that features more than 150 vendors selling arts and crafts ranging from handmade wood items to homemade baked breads.

Booths are set up around the lawn of the historic Ogle County Courthouse and surrounding streets on both Saturday and Sunday.

Ornamental produce, locally produced honey, jewelry, soaps, candles, antiques, seasonal items and homemade pies are just a few of the hundreds of items that can be found throughout the show.

Visitors to Autumn on Parade can partake in scrumptious treats in the Food Court, where local nonprofit organizations prepare their specialties each year. Apple fritters, pork chop sandwiches, funnel cakes, bratwurst, kettle corn and gyros are just some of the items offered.

The festival is one of the major fundraising events for most of the nonprofit groups in the food court.

On Sunday, Autumn on Parade’s annual Harvest Time parade will march through the streets of Oregon. The annual event, which has about 125 entries each year, is known as one of the most entertaining parades in the region.

Entertainment includes The Jesse White Tumblers and South Shore Chicago Drill Team and local marching bands, clowns, queens and floats.

Other Autumn on Parade events include a car and tractor show, tours of the Chana School, a Fun Zone for kids with a petting zoo and bounce houses, a 5K and Fun Run, and 10/40 raffle.

For information, visit www.autumnonparade.org or call 815-732-3465.

Woods Equipment Co. is this year’s presenting sponsor.

Earleen Hinton

Earleen oversees production and content of 9 community weeklies and has worked for Shaw Newspapers since 1985.