Twenty-five years ago, when Tom and Shari Mauer first drove the 200 miles from Wisconsin to Frankfort to display their handmade outdoor artwork at the Frankfort Fall Festival, cornfields surrounded U.S. Route 45. As the years passed, the cornfields diminished and the couple watched Frankfort and its Fall Festival — or Fall Fest for short — grow. Owners of Heart to Heart, a business that offers handmade outdoor decorations for the home, the couple has gained a following in the area and has a booth at the festival annually. 

"This has been a great show all of these years," Shari Mauer said. "We have lots of repeat customers. I have ladies that come out each year. ... With Facebook, I can communicate
with them about what we have, and we'll post pictures online of what we're bringing and people will go out of their way to come by because they know there's something they want."

The 48th annual Fall Festival took place Thursday-Monday, Sept. 1-5, and drew thousands to Frankfort for fall festivities and handmade artwork sold by vendors from throughout the country.

The Frankfort Chamber of Commerce sponsors the event with the support of the Village of Frankfort, and about 120 volunteers work together to organize it.

“The Fall Fest is a chance where Frankfort and myself, as the mayor, we show off our community ... [and] we show off that we can manage an event of this quality,” said Frankfort Mayor Jim Holland.
"[People are] coming to realize the quality of the event." Frankfort’s Fall Fest was recognized as the eighth best festival in the nation by Sunshine Artist magazine, said this year’s festival
chairman Andrew Wright.

With a 40 percent change from last year’s festival, 300 vendors were present this year, he added. Among the 60 percent of returning vendors, many, like the Mauers, have made the Frankfort Fall Fest an annual show for their businesses. “The community support and the way the community and Chamber come together for the show is wonderful,” Shari said. “And a lot of people here are volunteers, and they’re very good to work with. You don’t get that everywhere. They’re very professional, and they’re very proud of it.”

Artist Robert Cornman has traveled from Florida for the past four years to show his artwork at the fest. He said that he bypassed an opportunity at another festival to come to Frankfort’s in 2012 and has come every year since. “They treat us very well,” he said. “The surroundings are great and, honestly, the quality of the art and the quality [the festival] represents, the way they treat us, all makes it top in my book."

But the event wasn’t only about the artisans. The fest kicked off with the Frankfort Lions Club’s Wurst Fest, then offered carnival attractions the Friday before the Fall Fest parade took place on Sunday, Sept. 4. The fest and parade’s "Happy Days" theme, reflecting the 1950s, portrayed happiness and the good memories created at the festival each year, Wright said. “I chose the theme because I think [the festival is] just a very happy time,” he said. “Everyone loves the fest, and everyone comes and enjoys it for different reasons.”