Ask anyone in Duluth what the biggest happening there is every year, and all would give the same answer, the Duluth Fall Festival! 2017 is the 35th Anniversary, and it has always been held in the streets of Downtown Duluth. Recently it was again named ‘Best Festival in Gwinnett’, and in 2016 it was voted by SFEA, a festival organization, as ‘Best Festival in the Southeast’. With more than 400 volunteers, it is also the largest Festival in the entire Southeast with no paid staff. It is always the very last weekend in September, which this year puts the dates as September 30th & October 1st.
A huge parade through the streets of Duluth kicks it off on Saturday morning with several thousand participants. After this, the opening ceremony is held at the Festival Center honoring the Grand Marshal, other dignitaries, and major Sponsors. Continuous entertainment at two venues follows until closing at 7:00. Always the ‘Star’ of the show is the FOOD. There are two big food courts, plus other food booths throughout the Festival with every kind of treat imaginable!
Sunday starts with a 5K Road Race, ‘Duluth Donut Dash’, through Downtown Duluth, with almost 1000 runners. This serves as a Peachtree Road Race qualifier. Then, at 10:00 a community worship service is held on the Town Green, followed by entertainment for the rest of the day. Crowds are estimated at 80-100 thousand over the two days. There are several large shuttle busses that continuously transport people to and from Festival parking lots into Coleman Middle School, in the heart of the Festival area. The outlying lots are at Duluth Middle School, Chattahoochee Elementary and Mason Elementary.
However, the heart of the Festival is in the over 350 arts & crafts, food and sponsor booths. You will find handmade crafts of every description including, jewelry, art pieces, apparel, novelties, toys, Xmas items, plus, much, much more. There is ‘Man’s Corner’ with a football tent and booths and displays to especially please the men. ‘Kid’s Korner’ with inflatables is always a big hit with the children. Gold Metal Carnival operates Thursday and Friday evenings and all through the Festival, so this is definitely a festival for the entire family!
On Saturday, September 23rd, starting at 6:30, the Festival will sponsor a free concert with “Departure,” the ultimate Journey Tribute Band. They also sponsor many other events throughout the year, including Taste of Duluth, a DBA/Sponsor party, a Community Lunch, etc. Many clubs, churches, schools, etc. have their annual fund raising events during the Festival, which enables them to be much more successful.
All funds raised since the first Festival have gone to improve and beautify Downtown Duluth. Through the 35 years over 2.5 million dollars have been donated by the Festival Committee. However, the camaraderie and friendships formed by all, working together for a common goal, has been just as important. This has gone a long way towards keeping the wonderful small town spirit of Duluth alive. So, please join us on Saturday, September 30th and Sunday, October 1st for a super fun event that also does a lot for the community! For more information please visit www.duluthfallfestival.org.