The hay bales and cornstalks are ready and the scarecrows will soon make their appearance.
It's time for Newburyport to celebrate fall with the annual Columbus Day weekend Harvest Festival. Downtown and Market Square will be full of musicians, crafters, vendors and children's activities Sunday and Monday.
"It's supposed to be beautiful weather," Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce president Ann Ormond said. "I suspect a lot of people will be out and about."
More than 70 artisans will set up space along Inn, State and Pleasant streets throughout the two-day event. Wares of all kinds will be available to browse through and purchase, including handmade jewelry, crafts, clothing, photographs and pottery. Festival-goers will find all types of food vendors in Market Square, along with live music.
Squeezebox Stompers, who play "a blend of roadhouse roots, blues and country," will perform on Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. Modern soul musician Evan Goodrow and Friends will play on Monday from 1 to 4 p.m.
Families will notice one difference in the festival format this year, Ormond said. The Kids Korner, the children's entertainment area, will be on the grounds of the First Religious Society on Pleasant Street. In past years it has been at Waterfront Park.
Children should bring their favorite stuffed animal for the Teddy Bear Parade at 1 p.m. on Sunday. It will be led by performer Brian Doser. Following the parade, Doser will lead the group in a sing-along of children's songs.
On Monday, local musician EJ Ouellette and his students will perform in the Kids Korner.
"We get a lot of kids," Ormond said. The parade has had up to 100 kids take part in past years, she added.
One highlight of the fall festival is the annual scarecrow decorating contest, which draws about 75 entries. While it is primarily local businesses that decorate a scarecrow, Ormond said, families and civic organizations also take part, including Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops.
"They're unbelievable," Ormond said, of the creative scarecrows that are attached to the downtown lampposts.
This year, the public will have a say in who makes the best scarecrow, Ormond said. While Mayor Donna Holaday will serve as the judge again this year and name a "mayor's choice" winner, there will also be a "people's choice" winner, selected by festival-goers.
The scarecrow contest and judging will take place on Sunday from noon to 2 p.m. Winners will be announced at 3 p.m. They will remain up in the downtown through the end of the month.
IF YOU GO
What: Fall Harvest Festival
When: Sunday and Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Market Square, Inn, State and Pleasant streets
How: Admission is free