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Roanoke fall festival nears

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ROANOKE ROUNDERS:The Roanoke Rounders musical group will perform at 7:30 p.m. in the main tent for the 66th annual Roanoke Fall Festival.
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PARADE: Fire engines wail their sirens as they inch past locals down Main Street in Roanoke, pictured at the 64th annual Fall Festival in 2017. This66th Annual Fall Festival Parade begins at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
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KIDDIE TRACTOR PULL: Onlookers watch a young competitor in the Kiddie Tractor Pull event at Roanoke’s 64th annual fall festival. The event will return forthis year’s 66th annual fall festival.
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THUNDER IN THE PARK: The tractor pull, also known as Thunder in the Park, organized by the Roanoke Tractor Pullers Association will take place at 7 p.m. atPull Field at Roanoke Park. Tickets for the tractor pull are$15 for adults, $5 for ages 6-12, and ages 5 and under are free.

by James Ehle - jehle@h-ponline.com

The 66th annual Roanoke Fall festival is introducing a few new events this weekend in downtown Roanoke.

The first event, the new Little Miss and Little Mister contest, started off the festivities in the main tent on Thursday night. The new event crowned royalty winners from the group of kids, age 5 to 7.

At 6:15 p.m. Friday night, the festival will introduce its first pizza-eating contest, where participants will compete in the timed event in various age groups. Registration for the pizza-eating contest begins at 5 p.m. Pizzas and prizes for the contest will be supplied by Elmo’s Pizza and Subs.

A petting zoo, pony rides, and draft horse rides are also a new addition to the fall festival. Indiana Wild will be present at the event to promote animal education, where attendees will be able to interact with the animals.

“There is something for all ages,” said Sierra Dinius, Marketing Director for the Roanoke Fall Festival.

Dinius says fellow organizers are most excited about the array of children’s activities this year. One of the events is a relay race at noon on Saturday, which kids can register for at the pavilion in Roanoke Park.

“The relay race will include a sack race, three-legged race, and an egg and spoon race,” Dinius said.

Prizes for the relay were donated by The Gadget Girl and will include items like small bags, tumblers, among others.

“We encourage all ages to bring their friends and come compete,” Dinius said.

A face painting booth will also be set up in the pavilion from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The entertainment lineup for 2019 includes the Wildcat Valley Cloggers and the Roanoke Rounders on Friday night, and Wehr Rock of Elders on Saturday night.

Dinius says the board brought back carnival rides to this year’s festival. In addition to the rides and special events, Roanoke Park will be filled with 12 food vendors, 16 craft vendors, a range of rotating kids games and a variety of music.

“We have packed the park with festivities for all ages,” Dinius said.

Reoccurring popular events at the festival include the pie-eating contest, pet parade, and the cake & cookie competition. This year a people’s choice award was added to the cake competition, where attendees can vote for their favorite cake. The cakes will be displayed at the Seminary United Methodist Church from 2 to 4:30 pm on Saturday.

A cake & cookie auction will be held under the Main Tent on Saturday at 6:30 pm where attendees can bid on cakes and cookies from local bakers.

A lineup of free kids activities runs Saturday morning from 9 to 11 a.m. under the pavilion, which will showcase a variety of games.

Dinius says preparation for the festival is hard work, but board members take on the planning with pride and excitement.

“With eight members on the Board this year, we were all able to tackle our individual committees with great success,” Dinius said.

Anyone interested in becoming a Committee Chair or Volunteer can email roanokeindianafallfestival@gmail.com for more information.

The Roanoke Fall Festival runs from 5 p.m. on Friday through 10 p.m. Saturday night at Roanoke Park.