by Janna Ross
The calendar shows October. The aisles of the local stores are filling with bags and bags of every kind of candy imaginable, costumes for trick-or-treat, pumpkins to turn into jack-o-lanterns and of course, everything pumpkin spice. Soon lots of memories will be made sitting around bon fires, roasting marshmallows and trying to stay warm snuggled in your favorite hoodie. All these Fall favorites are right around the corner, along with a small town festival. Autumn on the River will be celebrating 26 years of making friends into family October 20 and 21 in historic Bethlehem. Hours for the festival will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 12 noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Autumn on the River is held at the grounds of the restored 1927 Bethlehem School. The school will be open for tours each day. Meet your friends and family in the Gathering Room of the school before checking out the “Old Fashioned Christmas” display. During the tour of the historical school, be sure to find the Veteran’s Wall of Honor. The Heritage Room will also be open to research local history and genealogy.
The popular festival draws crowds from all over Southern Indiana. Many come to grab a bite to eat, walk through the over 60 vendor booths and just hang out.
“We have people come down and meet family and friends. They meet up every year here in Bethlehem,” stated David Abbott, Co-Chair of the festival. “They come down and sit on a hay bale, listen to the live music and just forget about their troubles for the weekend. We love to see everyone having a great time. You always see people clapping their hands and tapping their toes to the music.”
The live music, sponsored by Nugent Sand and Gravel Company, is always a big hit during the two day festival. The entertainment schedule for this year will include: Jacob Z, Up to Hear, David Broughton, Hoosier Hills and Fake ID on Saturday and The Rock Family Worship, Steve Flammer and The Marlinaires on Sunday.
Autumn on the River will kick off on Saturday, October 20 with donuts and coffee at 9 a.m. followed by an auction at 10 a.m. The day will also feature a parade at 2:30 p.m., antique tractor and car display from 1 to 5 p.m., flag ceremony and tribute to Veterans at 2 p.m. and helicopter rides from 12 noon until 6 p.m. The festival will also host a horseshoe tournament on Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. Raffles and a silent auction will be held at the information booth during the festival. Sunday’s fun will kick off at 12 noon and conclude with the ever popular music from The Marlinaires from 2 to 5 p.m.
“We will have an expanded kids area this year and also a cake walk,” stated Abbott. “Andi has worked really hard to bring new ideas to the festival. She has booked all of the entertainment also. I cannot give enough credit to Andi. She is always working to make the festival better.”
Historic Bethlehem President Joe Madera and members of Historic Bethlehem along with Co-Chairs of the Autumn on the River Festival, Abbott and Oles, have been planning this year’s festival since early spring.
“We are ready to greet all of the festival goers. We have worked to bring a great festival to Bethlehem. I truly look forward to the festival weekend every year. I enjoy talking with everyone and seeing people who have not seen each other since last year’s festival. I always say Autumn on the River is the biggest family reunion in Clark County every year. There are definitely a lot of hugs given out that weekend,” Abbott added. “We want to keep the small town family feel to the festival. We want you to be able to come down the hill and have a great time without draining the wallet. You can come down and enjoy a great family and friends filled weekend without breaking the bank. Just put the kids, grandma, grandpa, aunts and uncles in the car and come down the hill. I promise you will have a great time!”
Abbott concluded, “Be sure to leave early to make it down the hill to Bethlehem. You will have to make sure you have time to stop by all the yard sales in New Washington on your way down. I love driving through New Washington and seeing everyone out enjoying the community. Come on down to Autumn on the River. Enjoy a bowl of bean soup in the basement of the schoolhouse. Sit on the hay bales and enjoy a funnel cake for dessert or some persimmon pudding, then listen to the live music. It will be a great weekend. I cannot wait. See ya there!”
Vendor applications are still being accepted for the upcoming festival. For more information or to get an application visit www.autumnontheriver.wordpress.com.
Driving directions from Scottsburg: Travel east on IN 56 to IN 62, about 14 miles. Turn right onto IN 62 and stay on IN 62 for about 10 miles to New Washington. Turn left onto Bethlehem/ New Washington Road. Travel eight miles to historic Bethlehem.