The Fall Festival: A Tradition


By Henry Holloway, Staff

Among the tradtions in Zionsville, the Fall Festival is certainly the grandest. Ever since it commenced in 1954, the Lions Club event has hosted the residents of Zionsville to a variety of attractions. In addition to the parade, the festival hosts a carnival of rides and games, as well as talent displays in Lions Park.

This year’s festival attracted an approximate 20,000 visitors, in addition to the estimated 8,000 on the parade route. As the festival is a staple for the community as a whole, it differs dramatically from what it was 65 years ago. Only profiting $700 and hosting an approximate 1,000 guests, the contrast between the inaugural event and today’s directly demonstrates how Zionsville has grown and evolved, especially with regards to recent years, thus requiring the festival to evolve as well to accommodate the town’s residents.

“I think the most significant evolution has been the Friday night VIP night for special needs families. This year more than 1,300 VIP guests were treated to a free dinner meal and given carnival ride passes. The Zionsville Lions Club in partnership with the Hawk Foundation, considers it an honor to be able to serve these families in this way and we intend to make this a long-standing tradition for the Fall Festival.” John Wilkins, President of the Lions Club, said.

The VIP treatment provided is one of the many ways the fall festival has extended its reaching by permitting greater accessibility. 

As the festival is open Saturday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., it always remains busy.

Excluding tickets required to ride the carnival rides present, the festival itself is also free of charge to the public, permitting more families to afford visiting. This is key to how the festival has bonded the community by way of one weekend event. A primary reason for this may be the variety of sources who contribute a surplus of funding. 

“I think this is unique for a festival of this size. This is possible because of the generosity of our 26 corporate and business Partners in the Park and the thousands of volunteer hours from Lions Club members,” Wilkins said. 

As the festival continues to light up Lions Park ever weekend after Labor day, the community remains bonded by way of it, even in midst of growth, continuing to contribute on an even greater scale.

“The Fall Festival has become a part of the culture of Zionsville and annually brings thousands of guests into our town. These guests contribute to our economy over the three days of our festival. The excellent manner in which the Zionsville Lions Club executes this festival presents our town in a very positive way.” Wilkins said.