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The weather might actually feel like fall for the Simpsonville Fall Festival this year, but the event hardly will seem like the same old pork-parade-kids-games days of the past.
Simpsonville Parks Director Chris Truelock, producing his second festival since being hired in early 2012, continues to expand the event, which runs from 7 a.m. until after dark on Saturday in Simpsonville Park.
His biggest constant obstacle, the weather, looks spectacular, with temperatures forecast to reach only the low 70s under a full sun throughout the day.
“We’ve earned it,” Truelock said. “Last year it busted out raining right before the 5K, and we went, oh no…”
Yes, there will be the traditional Purnell’s Sausage breakfast to get the day under way, and there will be even more games and rides for kids in a new area designed for them. The parade will step off at 1 a.m. down U.S. 60, with a focus on educators in Shelby County who will serve as grand marshals.
But that is hardly the end of it. Truelock has expanded city championships he launched last year, surrounding 3-on-3 basketball and a 5K run/walk/stroller roll will be a championship for corn hole and, well, mechanical bull riding. Those who mount the bull in competition must be at least 18 and will have to sign an injury waiver.
“This has gone well at other events, and I thought it was an opportunity not just for the championships for 18 and up but also for kids,” Truelock said. “It’s a great photo opportunity for kids, and those that do it get a bull-riding participation trophy to take home for their mantle. You don’t see bull-riding trophies often on the mantle. We definitely have interest, and I think once folks see the bull, they’ll be really jazzed up.”
If you don’t want the frenetics of the bull, there will be a tethered hot-air balloon ride at 5:30 p.m., and a new children’s play area will be separated from teen and adult rides, such as human spheres, vertical rush giant slide and twice the number of rides from last year.
“We’ve added more rides, but we’re trying to create a little bit more of kids’ zone,” Truelock said. “We are restricted in amount of property, but we’ve created more of a children’s area. We’ve added more teen inflatables, too, such as jousting. Found rides in past were kind of kid heavy and wanted to reach out to teens and even adults.”
There will be a variety of musical acts playing all day on the main stage, a Little Miss and Mister Pageant will be held at 11 a.m. in the gymnasium, and when the sun sets, the final outdoor cinema of the season will feature Hotel Transylvania, a PG-rated comedy.
In fact, with the weather forecast so promising, the only drawback to Saturday’s event might be its coincidence with the playing of the football game between the University of Louisville and Kentucky, which begins at noon.
“We have had this problem before, and once we moved the festival, but that caused more problems,” Simpsonville Mayor Steve Eden said.
Said City Attorney Hite Hays: “You can just DVR the game. That way, if your team loses, you don’t have to watch.”
Simpsonville Fall Festival
WHAT: Annual parade, games/rides and city championships
WHEN: 7 a.m.-dark, Saturday
WHERE: Simpsonville City Park, 108 Old Veechdale Road
7-10 a.m.: Purnell’s sausage breakfast.
7 a.m.-7 p.m.: Live musical acts
8:30 a.m.: 5K run/walk/stroller roll
10 a.m.-2 p.m.: Red Cross blood drive
10 a.m.-6 p.m.: Mechanical bull-riding championship
11 a.m.: Little Miss and Mister pageant
1 p.m.: Parade
2 p.m.: 3-on-3 basketball, corn-hole championships
5:30 p.m.: Tethered hot-air balloon rides
Dusk: Showing of Hotel Transylvania