A slice of history, fun - Warren Heritage Society event expected to draw thousands

The Warren Sentinel

FRONT ROYAL ó Downtown will be packed Saturday to host Front Royal's oldest and largest festival as the Warren Heritage Societyís annual fundraiser, the Festival of Leaves, returns for a 47th year.

Thousands of attendees are expected to attend Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m along Main and Chester Streets.

The festival was founded to raise awareness about local history and heritage, while also attracting out of towners who are visiting to see fallís changing of colors, Warren Heritage Society Executive Director Patrick Farris said.

The county's history will be celebrated at historic homes the Belle Boyd Cottage and Balthis House, where free tours will be available. History will further come alive in Heritage Square at 101 Chester St., as historical re-enactors provide demonstrations while period music fills the air.

"For us, it's a great opportunity to let the public know and see what we have," Farris said.

The re-enactors will cook, make apple butter and answer questions.

"Very often, we get people who have never been through the buildings before realizing that this is their heritage, and then they want to come back," Farris said.

For those who want to continue learning, books from the heritage societyís line of publications will be available.

There will a wide range of ìbeautifulî and ìinterestingî crafts to check out, as more than 100 vendors will be lined up on Main and Chester streets, Farris said. He added the festival provides a rare shopping opportunity.

"It's a shopping experience thatís unlike any other that you can find," he said.

"You can go to strip malls from here to California that are identical. ... At the Festival of Leaves, youíre going to have a shopping experience that is a once in a year kind of experience," Farris said.

Other attractions include live music performances at the gazebo throughout the day, plenty of food, a car show in the E. Wilson Morrison parking lot from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the Festival of Leaves Parade.

The parade will begin 10 a.m. at the intersection of Stonewall Drive and Luray Avenue. It will proceed up Royal Avenue, turn onto East 2nd Street and finish at the intersection with Chester Street.

"We have something for everybody ... and we really mean it," Farris said.

There is no entry fee. Proceeds from vendors and donations fund Warren Heritage Societyís costs such as employee salaries and building expenses.

Although the festival is Saturday only, the Helltown Half marathon, Shenandoah Leaf Peeper 10K and Festival of Leaves 5K will be held Sunday, starting at Skyline High School. All proceeds go to the heritage society. Registration information is available at

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