Downtown Hollister will once again become a hub for live entertainment, crafters, food vendors and more on Saturday, Oct. 12, as the Hollister Grape and Fall Festival makes its annual return to Downing Street. 

As it has in recent years, the festival will kick off with the Color Me Grape 5K at 9 a.m. at Hollister City Hall. Color run participates can register in advance online at colormegrape5k.com for $35, or the day of the event for $40. Participants age 4 and under are free. Proceeds from the race benefit The Community Grant Program, which is sponsored by The Rotary Club of Hollister, according to Grape and Fall Festival Chairman D. Todd Aeschliman.

“What is super special about this event is …  the proceeds that are raised from that event go back into the community, and they have helped a variety of organizations throughout Ozark Mountain Country,” said Aeschliman. “So not only do the people that participate get to have a wonderfully fun event to participate in, but … every single person is going to receive more than what they paid in gifts and things just for participating.” 

Color Me Grape participates will receive a runner’s bag that includes a ticket to Fritz’s Adventure in Branson, a bag of color, sunglasses, a raffle ticket for the Grape and Fall Festival prize drawings and a t-shirt.

Down on Downing Street, the festival festivities will begin at 10 a.m., which will feature more than 100 exhibitors.

“We have the craftsman’s village, which is coming back and that is where a lot of the artisans in the Ozarks are going to be bringing some of their finest goods that they create,” said Aeschliman. “These are people that have really perfected their craft and they take a substantial amount of pride in their work and want to make sure they bring something of value to folks.”

Set up alongside the crafts men and women will be a number of food vendors, which according to Aeschliman have all been personally handpicked by College of the Ozarks Culinary Arts Professor Lamae Koogler.

“There will be a tremendous variety. It’s not going to be stuff that you can get anywhere else and there’s an intent on quality and making sure that people have a lot of food options and choices,” he said. “The quality of the food is outstanding, and of course we have our restaurants on Downing Street as well for people to participate in.”

Aeschliman added that the Beer and Wine Garden is also coming back this year.

“If people want to just enjoy the music and have a nice drink that is going to be available to them as well.”

An all new Kids Zone will also be making it’s debut at the festival this year and will feature inflatables, pumpkin painting, crafts, a petting zoo, and pony rides. Making its 2nd Annual appearance at the festival this year will be the Dogs Gone Grape Pup Pageant at noon. Aeschliman said that, since pet owners have always brought their dogs with them to the festival, they thought it would be fun to incorporate something into the festival that would include them, too.

“So the main thing is for them to come and have fun. Every single, we call them paw-ticipants, receives a goody bag also. The entire entry fee, which is $20 for that event, goes to the Shepherd of the Hills Humane Society,” Aeschliman said. “So once again they get to do something fun and it benefits those that take care of animals on a day to day basis.”

Owners can register their four-legged friends in advance and find out more information at dogsgonegrape.com. Awards will be presented to winners of four different categories: Best Dressed, Most Talented, People’s Choice and Top Dawg. 

As the festival approaches, Aeschliman shared that there are still a few remaining spots left for any teams that would like to sign-up for the Hollister Grape Stomp, which will take place at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

“The grape stomp has been something that people have just enjoyed for years and years and years,” he said. “Its a signature to not only the Grape and Fall Festival, but it was originally started at the Grape Carnival many years ago. We hope to have a lot of local teams participate.”

Returning once again to host the Grape Stomp this year is Branson Arts Council Executive Director and long-time Branson entertainer Jim Barber. The Grape Stomp features two divisions, Adults and Youth 18 and Under, and are comprised for four-person teams. There is more than $1,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs that will be awarded to the top two adult teams and top two youth teams. Registration and additional information can be found at hollistergrapestomp.com.

From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. the festival will include a wide assortment of live music and entertainment. Among those performing at this year’s festival will be Hollister City Lights, Mike Walker, Abba/Beach Boys, All Hands on Deck!, The YMCA, Premiere Dance Academy, Impact Martial Arts, George Dyer, Ozark Mountain Music Troupe, The Harmony Trio, Gary Dooms and SIX.

“The entertainment is always outstanding. We’re really fortunate to live in the Ozarks where we have some of the greatest entertainers in the world,” said Aeschliman. “A lot of them lend their time and talents to be a part of the Grape and Fall Festival.”

The day of events will conclude with a Street Dance from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. with live music from the Lori Locke Band and an After Fest starting at 9 p.m. at the Downing Street Pour House and Vintage Paris. 

The festival is free and open to the public. Aeschliman encourages everyone that is interested to register to be a part of the 5K, grape stomp or pup pageant. He added that the event can always use more volunteers. Event schedules, information and registration can all be found at hollisterchamber.net.

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