MEGANN HORSTEAD
Freelance Reporter
The Frankfort Station 


The Frankfort Fall Festival maintains its tradition while growing each year, offering a chance to enjoy food, music, shopping and a carnival.

Traffic was redirected while the annual festival — held Saturday, Sept. 2, through Monday, Sept. 4 — took over the streets of downtown Frankfort. “I think it’s a tradition for many people just to come down and experience the day [and] hangout together,” said Bob Peters, the festival’s co-chairman. “It’s just a tradition that they do over Labor Day weekend.”

This year’s theme for Fall Festival was “Frankfort & Co.” “[It’s] based off Tiffany & Co. — classic, elegant, unique,” Peters said. The Frankfort Lions Club kicked off the Fall Festival by hosting the fourth annual
Wurst Fest. Live entertainment began at 11 a.m. Sept. 2 and ran through Sept. 4 at the Briedert Green entertainment stage with performances by Whiskeyfist, Briggs Street Band and Phylis Marconi.

Elsewhere, the arts and craft show featured wood creations, fine art, stoneware and pottery. The festival also included a beer and wine garden, parade and a gourmet market. Fall Festival chairwoman
Lisa Ricchio said the festival’s popularity rings true for many.

“The trend is obviously for the 300-plus artisans that extend their unique product and service to the public,” Ricchio said. “These artisans come from all over the United States and even Canada, and that’s what we’re known for. I think specifically this year because we were able to introduce enhancements to the fest, they were more curious to see those enhancements than just coming and visiting with the artisans and purchasing product.”

Typically, between 150 and 200 volunteers are responsible for putting the event together. Peters said seeing the number of volunteers that come together to support the festival is “humbling.”

The festival organizers started planning shortly after the conclusion of the Fall Festival in 2016. “With risk comes rewards, so to make significant changes such as adding a new beer and wine garden, adding a new gourmet food court, adding drone footage, those are huge changes for one year,” Ricchio said. “I think taking risks and not being afraid of change brings rewards.”

Kerry Mullaney said she came to the fest in hopes of finding a specific vendor. “Actually, I came to find one of those dip vendors,” she said. “You know, the ladies that have the packaged appetizer dips. It’s just one individual package, and [it] makes you just use sour cream and mayonnaise … I bought 12 of them — six for me, and six for my co-worker because she likes them, as well.”

Mullaney said it is hard to find dip vendors that sell at farmer’s markets. “The one in Tinley Park used to have it, but they don’t anymore, so I can’t find it,” she said. “That’s why I came out here.”

Mullaney’s husband, Dan, said they drove roughly 25 miles to get there. Mullaney added she is glad they decided to make a trip to Frankfort. “It’s a beautiful day,” she said. "[You] can’t go
wrong.”

Moving into next year, the fest will celebrate its 50th anniversary in Frankfort. “We’ve got some fun, exciting things for the volunteers [and] for our artisans,” Peters said. “I declare it a year of celebration. That’s what it’ll be—a celebration of our artisans, our history of our chamber, our volunteers, our patrons that come and our businesses. It is a year of celebration next year.”

Frankfort Fall Festival visitor Pat Rupcich (left) designs a silk scarf with the help of Jennifer Lagerwall from Silk Avenue. PHOTOS BY JULIE MCMANN/22ND CENTURY MEDIA