Christine Kennedy and her son Connor, 7, pose for a caraciture by artist Dave Washburn at the Duluth Fall Festival Saturday. (Staff Photo: Camie Young)
DULUTH — Kerry Dortch brings his Puppet Farm to the same street corner every year, during the Duluth Fall Festival.
After a decade or two, he knows kids come back to find him, hoping to get a glimpse of his hand-made puppets, while he hopes to make a sale. And everyone, he says, has a little fun.
“What’s better than a kid’s smile?” Dortch said of his favorite part of the annual Duluth tradition. “Nothing that I know of.”
Thousands of people poured through the streets of downtown Duluth Saturday, checking out the wares, enjoying some tasty treats, browsing through the art, dancing to the music and visiting with neighbors.
“It’s a big deal,” Chloe Hill said of the festival, as her daughter Haven danced on the Town Green.
Artist Kathryn Fincher, who grew up in Duluth, said the festival is the only one where she is sure to set up a booth each year, happy to take part in the hometown tradition, which raises money to beautify the city and brings together hundreds of volunteers.
“The heart and soul of Duluth is in the people, and that is what this is about,” Fincher said. “It’s the whole community coming together.”
With a carnival for the kids and everything from used books to expensive art for the adults, the festival is expected to bring about 100,000 people to the downtown area. On Sunday, the fun continues, with a race in the morning and a community worship service on the Town Green before the rides and booths open back up.
Lance Bradley said his family is new to the area but happy to find such a great community to have fun.
“It’s amazing,” he said, as his 3-year-old daughter Elizabeth was treated to a crazy hairstyle by one of the vendors. “She’s having a blast, and the weather is great too.”