If autumn had an official beginning on the campus of Polk State College, it would be FallFest.
Now in its 26th year, FallFest attracts more than 10,000 attendees annually, luring them with handmade crafts, the promise of a thoroughly spooky haunted house, and plenty of pumpkins just waiting to be carved.
Nearly 200 crafters have reserved spots at the event, ready to sell handmade wares ranging from woodcarvings to jewelry. This year’s vendors come from as close as Tampa and as far as Michigan, said FallFest Coordinator Lucille Hadley.
New at this year’s event will be a General Store, planned for room WST 126, inside the Student Center. In previous years, food vendors had been scattered amongst all the other vendors.
“We wanted a centralized area, where people can go and eat. Right outside the area where we will have the General Store is a food court, where people can sit down and have lunch. There is also outdoor seating available,” Hadley said.
Among the food items to be sold in the General Store are boiled peanuts, honey and homemade seasonings. Hadley said most of the food vendors will be Polk State College student organizations.
Just outside the General Store will be another new feature of FallFest: the Polk State’s Winter Haven Bookstore will be open, selling College merchandise including clothing and gift items for adults and children.
“We know members of the public would like the opportunity to purchase Polk State merchandise, but it can be difficult to get to the campus during our regular weekday hours,” said Bookstore manager Jennifer Henry.
The Bookstore will also be open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Also included this year will be a car show by FIAT of Winter Haven.
While new elements are added to FallFest from year to year, the core favorites of the event remain unchanged. Those include:
- A Kids Zone, complete with LaSertoma’s Pumpkin Patch, balloon art, hands-on activities, bounce house, and face painting
- A Haunted House staged by Polk State Physical Therapist Assistant students
- Musical performances by Polk State students and local bands, including the Over 55 Show Band and Divine, a performance group from Winter Haven High School
- Emergency vehicle displays and demonstrations by various fire, EMS and law enforcement agencies
FallFest serves as a fundraiser to benefit various student organizations and the Polk State College Foundation.