ROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times
Autumn officially arrived Thursday night, and in the spirit of the season, Liberal’s Baker Arts Center will be hostings its annual Fall Fest Saturday, Oct. 8. The event will feature many local vendors, as well as some activities for children such as inflatables, bouncy houses and pumpkin painting.
Baker Manager Meghan McElroy said many vendors have already signed up, and the excitement is building. This is the third year of the Fall Fest, and she said the first two have gone amazing.
“Last year was really successful,” she said. “We had more than 30 vendors, and it was really great. We had pumpkin painting, which was great for the kids. It was a really good experience.”
McElroy said Fall Fest is a good way for local vendors to showcase their products.
“We are more than happy to help local vendors and to showcase,” she said. “It’s gone really well. They’ve really been amazing, and it’s something we hope to keep on happening in the future.”
With the success of the first two editions of Fall Fest, McElroy is optimistic about the event continuing on an annual basis, adding a similar event in the spring could be in the works.
“I think it’s something that will go really well,” she said. “I think it’d really be great, and we’re very excited. We’re not taking over the farmers market, we’re having it right after the farmers market. I think it’ll be really good for Baker, and it’s good for Baker to be involved in the community.”
The Oct. 8 date marks just more than two weeks officially into autumn, and McElroy said this will add to the excitement of Fall Fest.
“We are going to have it outside,” she said. “There’s just something about fall that gets you excited about everything – the yellow leaves, the red leaves and just the simple weather change. It’s exciting. It’s a good change, especially after all the humidity we’ve had. I think there’s something comforting about fall and going and buying baked goods, and buying presents for Christmas. I love fall, and I think it’s a really good event to bring people together.”
Since the hiring of current Baker Director Kat Baalmann in 2020, the center has undergone a series of renovations. For now, though, McElroy said attention is focused on building a fence around Baker’s backyard.
“We definitely want to build the fence,” she said. “There are a few renovations that could be done here at Baker, but more upstairs, updating the elevator, minor things. Everything’s been going well. We still have a few things we need to fix up, but not too much thankfully.”
Case numbers for COVID-19 have been on the decline for some time now, allowing public events to take place in greater numbers, and McElroy said since coronavirus numbers have decreased, life at Baker Arts has gotten much better.
“Whenever COVID first came out, from what I’ve heard from Kat, it was awful, but I think things are finally starting to finally go back to normal,” she said. “We are having a bunch of kids come in, and they feel normal. They’ve had a bunch of field trips, which is great. We bring a lot more people. I definitely think we’ve been a lot busier since COVID has finally calmed down.”
Though the news about COVID is positive, McElroy said Baker officials are still careful with activities and events hosted at the center.
“We still sanitize everything,” she said. “We try to clean everything and we do the best we can with that. We’re doing a lot better in terms of making funds and getting memberships.”
Overall, McElroy is tremendously excited about the upcoming Fall Festival.
“I love showcasing all the vendors here in town,” she said. “I like connecting with people from all over. We don’t just have people from Liberal. We have people from Guymon, Kismet. What I like about it is the community and talking to people and making relationships. My favorite part of the Fall Fest is meeting people and building relationships, and I’m excited to meet new faces and see old faces too.”
Vendors who want to participate in Fall Fest need only go to www.bakerarts.org and click on the “Event Registration” tab.
“They go down, and the Fall Fest will be there,” McElroy said. “They’ll click it and sign up. They’ll just put their name, number, e-mail, their business. It’s only $40. We do supply one table and two chairs, but businesses are more than welcome to bring a chair, two tables, whatever they need for their business.”
“They’re more than welcome to contact us in any way,” she said.