VillageFest turns 20

Annual festival attracts people from on and off campus

Published by Annabelle Chipps, Date: September 22, 2023
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Thousands of patrons celebrated the 20th annual Slippery Rock VillageFest on Saturday, Sept. 16. The festival featured artisan vendors, live music, games, refreshments and more. 

This year, the event spread onto Newcastle Street and in Memorial Park, instead of just Main Street. This allowed VillageFest to host over 120 vendors, the most they have ever had. 

The festival is entirely organized and run by volunteers, according to Craig Caldwell who is a Slippery Rock resident “in charge” of the event.

“This couldn’t be done without volunteers and a lot of student help,” Caldwell said. “We had some of the football players there, basketball and baseball [players too]. We had our ROTC there to help us in the morning, it’s kind of like campus move in days.”

The event opened with a ceremony at 9:55 a.m. and officially began at 10. It ran until 5 p.m. 

One of the bands playing was 16 Eyes, who played at the first ever VillageFest 20 years ago. Other performances included a demonstration from Plenque Colombian Dance Ensemble and Hayday Band. 

In addition to a cornhole tournament, patrons could find other games in the Giant Eagle sponsored Kid’s Zone. This area was meant to cater to all ages with rides, games and face painting. It also featured a magician, a hula hoop contest, caricatures, balloon animals and a Taekwando demonstration from a local dojo. 

“[The demonstration] was awesome,” said Eva King, an SRU junior who attended the event. 

King said they had fun, as they also won movie night raffle basket at the festival. 

The main raffle prize was the “Taste of Slippery Rock” basket that was valued at almost $1,000. It featured gift cards from all 27 places to eat and drink in Slippery Rock borough. 

An estimated 17,000-18,000 citizens attended VillageFest this year, according to Caldwell. 

“What makes it successful is the weather…the last two years we’ve had great weather for it,” Caldwell said. “This year was a little bit more just because we had more vendors we had more space.”

Many of the vendors were from local restaurants, such as North Country Brewing or Fuzzy Monkey Coffee, which will be opening a location on Main Street later this year. 

Other vendors ranged from independent sellers of spices and jewelry to local nonprofits and an alpaca farm, among other things.

“Every year, it pretty much coincides with parents weekend…” Caldwell said,  “One thing we look at is how do we get involvement from everybody [in] the community.”

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