Bluffton Fall Festival returns after two-year pause

BLUFFTON — The days are becoming noticeably shorter. The leaves are showing signs of fall colors and football is in full swing. 

That must mean it’s time for the Bluffton Fall Festival.

Returning this year for its 17th edition following a two-year hiatus due to the nationwide coronavirus pandemic, the village of Bluffton will welcome visitors from far and wide for this year’s festival on Saturday, Sept. 24.

The first Bluffton Fall Festival took place in 2004 at Mennonite Memorial Home in Bluffton. Since that time the event has grown into a community festival that currently includes activities held at Mennonite Home, Maple Crest Senior Living Center, Bluffton Hospital, Mercy Health-Bluffton Family Medicine, downtown Bluffton, Bluffton Family Recreation, NWO Orthopedics and Sports Medicine and the Swiss Historical Society.

Festival coordinator Jason Cox said the festival historically draws large crowds to the Allen County village.

“The cool thing about this event is that almost everything is free and family-oriented,” Cox said. “That makes the festival very popular. We’re really happy to have the festival back on the schedule this year,” Cox said. “This year will probably be one of our biggest events ever.”

The festival kicks off in downtown Bluffton with a Cars & Coffee event from 8-11 a.m. at 902 N. Main St. The event, which is held regularly from May to October, is touted as an “informal gathering for enthusiasts and their cars.” A farmers market will be held Saturday morning in the parking lot of Citizen’s National Bank from 8:30 a.m. until noon.

Face painting and a balloon artist are scheduled from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Mercy Health Family Medicine, 204 N. Main St. New at the festival this year are sidewalk sales from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. During that same time a $5 kids craft event will be held at Blended Roots, 246 Cherry St.

Another new feature is entertainment at the Bluffton Presbyterian Church gazebo, 112 N. Main St., from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Downtown businesses will be open throughout the festival.

Activities at the Mennonite Memorial Home, 410 W. Elm St., will run from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and include food vendors and a food tent, a kiddie train, putt-putt golf and sand art crafts.

Swiss Community Historical Society, 8350 Bixel Road, will host activities from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Visitors will have the opportunity to watch historical demonstrations from volunteers in period costumes. Farm animals, a straw bale maze, kids’ games and activities and food for sale will be featured at the site.

Events scheduled at Maple Crest Senior Living Village, 700 Maple Crest Court, include an antique tractor show and face painting from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

A kiddie tractor pull is scheduled from 1-2 p.m., with registration at 12:30 p.m. and a fishing derby will take place from 2-3 p.m. Free hearing screenings will be held throughout the day.

Pumpkin decorating, interactive games for kids and refreshments will be available from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Bluffton Hospital, 139 Garau St. NWO Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, located at 132 Garau St., will host sports games, ladder golf and other events from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Cox said many, but not all, of the festival locations are within walking distance of each other. He said ample parking will be available at all the festival sites.

“There will not be a shuttle service this year as there has been in the past, but we hope to bring that back next year,” said Cox.

The festival organizer said the merchants and businesses of Bluffton make his job easy.

“There’s not a lot I have to do. The volunteers and businesses do all the work,” he said.


What: Bluffton Fall Festival

When: Saturday, Sept. 24, from 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

Where: Various sites in the village of Bluffton