VALLONIA — Fort demonstrations, fire department fish sandwiches and the flea market are popular features of Fort Vallonia Days.
This weekend, people will flock to the small Jackson County community that was established in 1811 for the annual fall festival.
Activities go from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
There are, however, a couple of things going on Friday. Pumpkin decorating contest entries are due between 4 and 6 p.m., and local band u4ia will perform at 7 p.m.
Entry forms for the contest are available at fortvalloniadays.com. The age divisions are 6 to 11, 12 to 17 and 18 and older, and the categories are prettiest, scariest, most creative and Fort Vallonia Days themed. Pumpkins can be carved, painted or decorated.
Entries should be dropped off in the two-hour time frame Friday at Vallonia Christian Church for judging. First place will be awarded for each division and category, and the grand prize winner will receive $75. Each participant will receive a Fort Vallonia Days wooden nickel, and all pumpkins will be displayed during the festival.
Winners will be announced at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the main stage on Main Street. Winners should be present to collect their prize.
On both days of the festival, a variety of demonstrators and teepees will be set up within the fort, a model steam and old gas engine display will be outside the fort, booths will be set up selling food and crafts, there will be a flea market and people can check out the Fort Vallonia Museum and Joe Jackson Hotel.
“People like to come and see the fort,” festival President Karlei Metcalf said. “I know they’ve been trying to recruit some new people to come into the fort and demonstrate some things, so I’m excited to see them. I always like to see what they bring in.”
Sandra Warren said there will be a variety of demonstrations, including carving wooden bowls, tatting, blacksmithing, weaving, crocheting, embroidery, corn husk dolls, broom making, hand tying, spinning, leather working, powered horn making, weaving and wooden pencil making. There also will be displays of traps, pottery and pictures, a woman will have her Daniel Boone book available and a man will show how a primitive saw is used.
Food, including the famous fish sandwiches made by the Driftwood Township Volunteer Fire Department, is another fan favorite.
“I always look forward to the food. That’s my favorite part of the weekend,” Metcalf said.
Brad Covert, who is in charge of securing food vendors, said they are maxed out at nearly 30. Along with fish sandwiches, festivalgoers will find smoked meats, gyros, ice cream, nuts, pizza, barbecue, fried tenderloin sandwiches, deep-fried cheese curds, Oriental food, kettle corn, elephant ears and more.
“It’s a pretty wide variety,” Covert said.
The museum in front of the fort is worth visiting during the festival, Metcalf said.
“We’ve got a lot of old pictures and things from Fort Vallonia that have been donated through the years that I think are really neat,” she said.
In the newly renovated hotel, Metcalf said people can check out the improvements made to the historic building and buy Fort Vallonia Days merchandise, including T-shirts, sweatshirts, travel cups, color-changing cups, campfire mugs, stickers, crocks and knives. That’s a fundraiser for the festival.
Saturday’s activities will kick off at 9 a.m. with the Mick Gray Memorial Trail Ride. A state riding permit is required to participate.
Also at 9 a.m. are the Wes Hartley Memorial Muzzle Loading Shoot and registration for the baby contest.
At 9:30 a.m., winners of the inaugural Little Mister and Little Miss contest will be announced. Four participants have been raising funds, and the money raised will go back into the festival.
Metcalf said that contest is one of the big changes this year.
“We were just looking for something to bring the kids back into Fort Vallonia Days,” she said. “When I was growing up, there was always the prince and princess contest, and it just seems like people got busy, chairpeople rotated out and there wasn’t a lot of things for kids to do, for ways for them to be involved, so it’s one of the things we did to help bring them back into the festival. I’m excited to see how things go. … I hope we can keep doing that every year.”
Entertainment on the stage will be at 11 a.m. and noon before the parade travels down Main Street at 1 p.m. This year’s parade marshal is Rosie Wheeler.
At 2 p.m., the tomahawk and knife throw will take place in the fort, and there will be more live music and entertainment for the remainder of the day.
Sunday kicks off with a community church service at 10 a.m. in the Vallonia Gym.
Entertainment is scheduled throughout the afternoon on the stage, and there also will be a team cornhole tournament, a horseshoe pitch and a 5K run/walk. The festival will end with booth drawings at 4 p.m.
“I’m looking forward to a great year,” Metcalf said. “I know we have good weather scheduled, and I’m excited to see everybody, and I just hope everybody comes to participate and spend some time together.”
53rd annual Fort Vallonia Days
4 to 6 p.m.: Pumpkin decorating contest entries due (Vallonia Christian Church)
7 p.m.: u4ia
9 a.m.: Mick Gray Memorial Trail Ride
9 a.m.: Wes Hartley Memorial Muzzle Loading Shoot
9 a.m.: Baby contest registration (Vallonia Gym)
9:30 a.m.: Little Mister and Little Miss winners announced
10 a.m.: Baby contest (Vallonia Gym)
10:30 a.m.: Pumpkin decorating contest winners announced
11 a.m.: Southern Indiana Cloggers
1 p.m.: Parade
2 p.m.: Tomahawk and knife throw
2 p.m.: u4ia
3 p.m.: Dane Darlage
4 p.m.: Country Kickers
5 p.m.: Karaoke with Tee Jay Entertainment
10 a.m.: Community church service (Vallonia Gym)
11 a.m.: Team cornhole tournament registration (beside the fort)
Noon: Sparkles and Spurs
Noon: 5K run/walk registration
Noon: Team cornhole tournament
Noon: Horseshoe pitch registration
12:30 p.m.: Horseshoe pitch
1 p.m.: 5K run/walk
1:30 p.m.: Brownstown Central High School show choir
3 p.m.: Classical solo guitar with Preston Carter
4 p.m.: Booth drawings