Popcorn Festival popping up
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent August 29, 2012 2:30PM
Bill Sandhorn proudly sports the hat his wife Valerie made for him to wear during a previous Popcorn Panic 5-mile race in Valparaiso, Ind. | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media
For a full Popcorn Festival schedule and other details, go to www.valparaisoevents.com/popcorn%20festival.
Updated: October 1, 2012 3:55PM
The 34th annual Popcorn Festival will be popping into Valparaiso with four days of prefestival activities, followed by the daylong celebration on Sept. 8 of one of the country’s favorite snack foods.
The festival, held downtown, features more than 300 food and craft booths, and a popcorn-themed parade — floats must be made with at least 20 percent popcorn, corn or corn products — with more than 60 entries.
The event, always held the Saturday after Labor Day, draws 40,000 to 50,000 people downtown each year, said Tina St. Aubin, executive director of Valparaiso Community Festivals and Events, which puts on the festival each year.
“There’s so many elements that go into the festival that make it a success,” St. Aubin said, adding that includes everything from the vendors to the music. “If everything doesn’t work, they won’t come back.”
The festival committee started jurying the vendors a couple of years ago. The area on Lafayette Street between Lincolnway and Jefferson Street includes commercial vendors, cottage industry items and other goods.
“Every other vendor in the festival — they’re all handmade items,” St. Aubin said, adding fine arts vendors will again be on Washington Street between Lincolnway and Indiana Avenue.
The food vendors, which are scattered through the festival site, are either run by a local not-for-profit agency, or that agency has partnered with a vendor and will receive a portion of the proceeds, St. Aubin added.
Lorrie Woycik, Special Olympics coordinator for Porter County, will be the parade’s grand marshal. One of her athletes will accompany her in the parade, which kicks off at 10 a.m.
“She’s definitely a gem in the community,” St. Aubin said.
The Pittsburgh-based band Rusted Root is the music headliner, performing at Central Park Plaza. The band, whose hit “Send Me On My Way” was featured in the movie “Ice Age,” has toured with Santana, the Dave Matthews Band, and on the Jimmy Page/Robert Plant reunion tour.
Other performers include The Acousticats, Killer Ray Alison, and The Crawpuppies. Front Porch Music also will host a music stage.
Pre-event festivities include daily lunches and dinners at the Orville Redenbacher Tent at Central Park Plaza, starting Sept. 4; finals for the Cutest Baby contest at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 4, also in the tent; and the Hot Wheels “Race of Champions,” with registration at 5 p.m. Sept. 4, also by the tent.
The Popcorn Festival isn’t the only form of entertainment for the weekend. The Chicago Street Theatre is offering a performance of “Snow White” at 2:30 p.m. Sept. 8 at the downtown theater. More information on the show can be found at www.chicagostreet.org.