Energetic and cheerful: those were the words of the day in Valparaiso during the 43rd Annual Popcorn Festival on Saturday, September 10.
Way back in 1979, Valparaiso threw its first-ever Popcorn Festival to celebrate and appreciate the life of Orville Redenbacher, the king of popcorn. Today, 43 years later, Valparaiso is still celebrating bigger and better than ever before. Everyone was ecstatic and proud to be carrying on this community tradition.
“Most festivals of this nature die off after 20 years. The fact that it's in the 43rd year is a testament to the office and the people that came before me,” said Tom Clifford, Executive Events and Marketing Manager of Valparaiso Events.
The Popcorn Festival may have started all those years ago as a fun way to recognize Orville Redenbacher, but since then it’s turned into something even more invaluable. It’s become a celebration of Valparaiso itself and the wonderful people who call it home.
“I think Valparaiso is a lovely town. I grew up here and it's changed quite a bit since I went to college and moved back, and I hope the festival highlights that. We're just a stone's throw away from Chicago and the dunes and the lake shore, but we've got a really lovely town and a great community that we love to showcase,” said Clifford.
The fun-filled day started bright and early with the Popcorn Panic Five Mile and 5K Walk and Run which, was hosted by Valpo Parks. Many participants raced through the streets fighting for first place and personal bests, while others just had fun walking and jogging with their friends and family, excited to be part of such an amazing event. One participant even dressed up in a popcorn costume!
Later on, the little kids had the chance to strap on their running shoes—or in some cases strap on sandals—and participate in the Lil Kernel Puff Run which was also hosted by Valpo Parks.
Kids ages two through nine had a blast racing down Lincolnway. To make it even more fun, every participant received a t-shirt and a ribbon.
Each year the parade is a huge success, and this year was no different. The crowd cheered as colorful floats and people decked out in crazy costumes paraded through downtown. A group featuring Alice in Wonderland costumes was a fan favorite.
The vendor booths were another bustling part of the Popcorn Festival that no one wanted to miss. Over 250 arts and crafts booths and 35 food booths had everything from homemade mittens to CBD popcorn. There was everything a person could want--you name it, the festival had it.
Kids had a fantastic time burning off some energy at the Ultimate Poppin’ Play Zone, while adults looking to relax could sit back and enjoy a few drinks in the beer garden. As if that wasn’t enough entertainment, a musical festival was held for all the music lovers in the community. The Insiders, The Crawpuppies, Mike and Joe, and The Spazmatics all came out and gave incredible performances that had everyone dancing and singing.
At the end of the day, the community was extremely proud of how the festival turned out. There was something fun for people of all ages to enjoy, and everyone left with countless new memories. The Valparaiso Events team is grateful for all the support they received from the city and their sponsors to make the festival happen, and they can’t wait to start planning for next year.
To learn more about Valparaiso Events and its 43rd annual Popcorn Festival, visit https://www.valparaisoevents.com/.