There are few things more charming than a fall festival in a small, bustling town, and folks planning this year's Perham Harvest Fest are ready to show that.
Put on by the Perham Events Committee, Roxanne Harthan is one of the chairpersons for the festival, which is set for Friday and Saturday, Oct. 5 and 6.
"All of the activities are happening on Saturday, but we say Friday too because we want people to come in early and shop Perham and get in on some of those sales everybody will be having," said Harthan, who says essentially all the businesses around the downtown area will be pulling their merchandise out onto the sidewalks both days to draw people in to shop some local sales.
This year's theme is going to be all about the "golden ticket", based on the golden tickets found wrapped into the candy bars of the popular children's book and movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
"The movie will be showing at the theater - with admission, but cheaper than normal it sounds - and the theater will be giving out free popcorn whether you watch the movie or not," said Harthan.
And just like Charlie in the movie, there will be some golden ticket winners around Perham, as a volunteer will be walking around handing out hundreds of free chocolate candy bars.
"Eighteen of them will be winners," said Harthan, explaining that within those candy bars will be two $100 winners, two $50, four $25 and ten $10 winners...all in Perham bucks that can be used at a variety of Perham shops, stores and restaurants.
"Even if you don't win one of the prizes, you still win because you get free chocolate," laughed Harthan.
Streets will be shut down around portions of the downtown, allowing festival-goers to roam freely and partake in the variety of activities and entertainment that will be on display that weekend. Fresh produce and pumpkins will dress up the area, as the farmer's market will be putting the "harvest" in "harvest fest".
The Marshmallow Foundation will also be out with some adoptable animals - both dogs and cats - with the hopes that they will win over the hearts of people there who can give them a good forever home.
"We'll also have one or two bouncy houses in that section, and then we're working with Kinship to do something out in that area, too," said Harthan, who, along with other volunteers, is still finalizing some details. She says the group is trying to get horse-drawn carriage rides out to the festival, but if that doesn't happen, they'll still have the trolley puttin' around town.
According to Harthan, several businesses are looking to spice up the festival with those fall favorites that warms the bellies and souls of community members there.
"The Goose Gang will be out doing their fall flavors of popcorn and yogurts, and we were talking about Pine Island Fish Company maybe doing some little pumpkin mini muffins to give away or something like that," she said, adding that while Disgruntled Brewery can't do a beer garden within the city, there may be some beer tasting set up somewhere downtown. The Locker Plant will also be hauling out a smoker in front of Ace Hardware where they'll be smoking and serving up some fresh pulled pork.
Calla Floral Confections will be providing a fall fan favorite for the festival - dipped caramel apples.
"They'll be handing those out for free, and then we're hoping the Lions can get out there too with some mini donuts, and the Sportsman's Club may also be down there doing something on gun safety," said Harthan, adding that they also booked a chainsaw carver who will be working on a piece live for passersby to get a look at his process in action.
"And then he'll have some finished pieces out there as well," said Harthan, adding that there will also be facepainting, a fire truck for kids to explore and possibly a little petting zoo. There will also be urban printmaking on the sidewalks, where the street grates will be painted so that kids can put t-shirts down, roll over them and instantly have themselves some "street apparel". There will also be some live music going on to sweeten up the ambiance.
"So there's something for everyone there, not just kids and moms, but everybody," she added.
A big, new attraction to the Perham Harvest Fest this year comes in the form of pumpkin-shaped challenge - folks at Otter Berry Farms just outside of Perham have created a six-acre corn maze that those who've gotten a sneak peak of are calling "simply beautiful and amazing".
"So, we're working with them to get people out there to see that," said Harthan, who says although weather is always their number one factor in determining attendance, she says festivals like this have a way of pulling people together around town.
"It's just really fun for the kids and families and everybody," said Harthan, "and it's fun to see how the town networks and works together like this."