Maybe it was because it was the 30th Anniversary of the Duluth Fall Festival or maybe it was the threat of afternoon rain, but an enormous crowd showed up early Saturday (Sept. 29) to watch the parade and stroll through the festival.
Parade Emcee Brooks Coleman, who has been involved since the first festival in 1983, estimated the crowd gathered to view the downtown parade at 35,000 to 45,000. They stayed to visit the arts and craft booths, food vendors and other attractions.
More folks streamed in through the afternoon as the predicted rain held off. The festival continued through Sunday (Sept. 30) with festival organizers and volunteers keeping their fingers crossed that it wouldn’t get rained out. About 100,000 usually take in the festival over the two days.
The 85 parade entries included the Wells Fargo Bank Stagecoach and horses driven by Texas cowboy Alan Cartright, floats, cheerleaders, bands, schools, beauty queens, athletes, soldiers, city officials, politicical leaders, businesses, local organizations, and, of course, Santa.
Grand and honorary marshals of the parade were legendary music promoter Eddie Owen, who presents concerts at the Red Clay Theatre, and Tom Martin, chairman and CEO of Gwinnett Community Bank, a top sponsor since the festival’s inception. The bank provides the festival T-shirts every year.
Also riding in the parade were Kathryn Willis, founder of the festival and the 2012 chairman, with her daughters Kay Montgomery and Gin Willis. All three have chaired the festival in past years.
The story was provided by the Duluth Patch editor. The city of Peachtree Corners has a number of students who attend Berkeley Lake Elementary, Duluth Middle and Duluth High, all of which are part of the Duluth cluster of schools. The schools were well represented at the Duluth Fall Festival this year.