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Bowling Green's Harvest Festival is turning 23, and there's no shortage of activity from cars to pumpkin painting.
BY JIM MASON
FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Thousands of people will pack Main Street in Bowling Green this Saturday for the 23rd annual Harvest Festival.
"Crowds in recent Harvest Festivals have been estimated by authorities as ranging from 10,000 to 12,000," said Kathy J. Beard, Caroline County's tourism manager and coordinator of the festival.
For one day, Main Street in this quiet little town will resemble the carnival-like atmosphere of New Orleans' French Quarter during Mardi Gras. The Harvest Festival is always a lively street scene, one filled with music, food and fun.
"Typically, the strongest draws are the bands, the classic car and truck show and the street vendors, more than 30 of them selling food," Beard said.
"A big star in this event is the town of Bowling Green itself. All these years, this small town of 1,000 has been doing what it takes to keep Harvest Festival going. Town Council invests in the project and town staff devotes an amazing number of hours preparing for it, and merchants and volunteers pitch in to help. Very few communities can boast of such a long-standing event as this."
Bands will take turns entertaining on a stage set up in the EVB Bank parking lot across Main Street from the historic Caroline County Courthouse. Among the bands to perform: Patsy and the Country Classics, Milford Station, Hangin With Stogie, Cactus Jack and Real Deal Band and Show.
Again this time, Wick Coleman of rural Penola, Caroline's most popular public speaker, will be the voice of Harvest Festival. On the entertainment stages, he's known to interact with people and whip up enthusiasm. When he sings "Mustang Sally," the crowd goes wild.
"Even the little kids join in and sing along," said Beard.
As a reminder of the Harvest Festival's origins, Bowling Green Farmers Market will sell fresh fruits, vegetables and other harvest foods at tented stands on the Caroline County Courthouse lawn.
Children can visit animals in a petting zoo, also on the courthouse lawn. Nearby, they can paint pumpkins and check out the crafts. A reputedly magic clown named Roxy will wander around looking for laughs. Rides and inflatables will be set up beside United Methodist Church just south of Main and Milford streets.
Bowling Green's Bouy sisters, known around town as "The Girls," will be having fun again this year at the festival. Asked what they like best, Amber, 14, said, "The funnel cakes."
"The rides," said Amalee, 13.
"Painting the pumpkins," said Amaya, 11.
Jim Mason is a freelance writer living in Bowling Green.