From train-related festivals, to music and art in the park to Santa in the Caboose, Griffith offers a wide array of activities for family fun all year-long.
ROCK N’ RAIL STREET FESTIVAL
The 5th Annual Griffith Rock 'N Rail Street Festival will take place in downtown Griffith on Broad Street Labor Day weekend Friday, Aug. 30 through Sunday, Sept 1. The festival features dozens of food vendors with a wide variety of local and ethnic foods, non-stop live music on an elaborate stage, a kid’s area and a giant beer garden. On Friday Aug. 30, there will be a car show sponsored by the Griffith Firefighters from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. with registration 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and awards at 8:30 p.m. A 5k run sponsored by the Griffith YMCA. Festival will be held Saturday Aug. 31. Festival hours are Friday 4 p.m. to midnight, Saturday 11a.m. to midnight and Sunday 1 p.m. to midnight. Admission is free. The Griffith Historical Society’s Barrel Train will also run at festival.
“Griffith is the town that came to the tracks,” Town Councilman Glen Gaby said. “What we have done is to start out five years ago with the idea that we were going to have an old-fashioned sidewalk sale for our downtown merchants to promote their varying businesses. We also decided it would be good to have food for people so we sent out some letters to invite various restaurants in town to come downtown and sell their products and to promote their businesses as well. We also decided it would be good to provide entertainment so we hired some local bands to come in and a couple of higher priced bands to entertain at night as well.”
Gaby said the beer garden generates revenue to pay for the festival entertainment.
“What started out as an idea to have a one-day event has now blossomed into a three-day event for the Labor Day weekend,” Gaby said. “We feel it is a unique street festival with a car show on Friday and good quality entertainment for three straight days. We get the participation of the citizens of Griffith, which is what we originally intended. Getting our own people downtown to see that we have viable businesses here for them to visit and purchase items. It's also a chance for neighbors to get together and visit in a social environment. It has been a great success, weather notwithstanding.”
SECOND ANNUAL GRIFFITH YMCA ROCK N’ RAIL 5K RUN
The Rock N’ Rail 5K Run begins at noon Saturday Aug. 31. The route starts and finishes at the Griffith YMCA, 201 N. Blvd. traveling down the newly-renovated Broad St., through beautiful Central Park and tying into the bike trail. Race participants over the age of 21 receive a free beer in the beer garden. Register online at www.griffithymca.org, in person at the YMCA, or on race day from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. MemberSource Credit Union is the Platinum Sponsor of the 2013 Rock ‘N Rail 5K.
GRIFFITH RAILROAD FAIR
Sponsored by the Griffith Historical Society, the 30th annual Griffith Railroad Fair will steam into town Sept. 28 and 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Griffith Historical Park, 201 S. Broad St.
New this year is the Historical Griffith bus tours, which proved very popular during the Society’s recent 30th anniversary celebration. Don Mauger will again be the tour guide.
Old standbys returning to the Fair include: vendors of railroad-related merchandise; Hobo Stew cooked over an open fire; and local musician Joe Sibley performing Saturday afternoon.
For the kids, the Society’s Barrel Train will provide fun rides through the park and a moonwalk and games will be featured as well. The Barrel Train will also run at the town’s Rock N’Rail Festival Aug 30 through Sept. 1. Two raffles, one of cash and one for a hand-made quilt will be part of the Railroad Fair and winners will be drawn at the end. The quilt was made by former Griffith residents Jimmie and Richard Fortner.
34TH ANNUAL FALL HARVEST CRAFT FESTIVAL
Hosted by Griffith Boy Scout Troop 264, which is sponsored by the Griffith Lutheran Church, the ever-popular Fall Harvest Craft Festival is Sept. 28 and Sept. 29 in Central Park. The entire festival is organized and run by the leaders, parents and scouts of the troop. Past troop members and Eagle Scouts also lend a hand. The festival features a large variety of beautiful unique hand-made items to peruse.
“We take pride that our festival offers only hand-made items by many talented artists,” Cheryle Cudzilo said.
Lunch is also available, including steamed corn and potatoes, hot dogs, and pulled pork sandwiches. Dessert choices include: chocolate-covered strawberries; elephant ears; fresh popcorn; caramel apples; and a bake sale. A live band will perform during lunch.
“Our festival is always held the last weekend in September, so this is the perfect place to start Christmas shopping,” Cudzilo said.
The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. There is free admission, free parking and it is handicap accessible.
Booths are still available. Interested vendors can e-mail Sherry at email@example.com or visit the troop’s Facebook page.
“This wonderful craft show event has been going strong for 34 years now,” Committee Chair Judy Glass said. “I am proud to say I've been a part of it for so many years. The scouts, family, and friends all become a family from Friday morning until Sunday night. All work together to get everything done and we make it a very nice fun time to be together. Everyone really looks forward to this time of the year. The scouts learn so much from this: respect, working with others, volunteering to help the committee, responsibility and honesty.
“The funds raised from our show allow the leaders to take all the scouts camping every month and to purchase tents, necessary camping equipment, awards for the scouts and provides for the upkeep of the troop’s trailer,” Glass said. “So many crafters are very impressed with the scouts in the way they are willing to help them set up and take down their booth. They also help the crafters though the show by taking their food orders and delivering to their booths. The adding of a band was a great idea. Live music always makes people feel better.”
SANTA IN THE CABOOSE
Tired of standing in long lines to see Santa Claus at the mall? Then the Griffith Historical Society’s Santa in the Caboose may be just what you’re looking for.
This year, Santa will be visiting with children in the Society’s newly-painted Christmas caboose from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 14 and Dec. 21 and from noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 15.
“We believe we offer a unique Santa experience,” says Karen Kulinski, who coordinates the event. “Instead of standing in line, families wait to see Santa in our World War II troop sleeper car, which is equipped with chairs.
Spike, the Reindeer Engineer, who drives Santa’s train, hangs out in the car to visit with the children, and elves are on hand to help entertain the little ones while they’re waiting.”
“When their turn comes, each family then has a private visit with Santa in our caboose,” Kulinski said. “Santa sits on a specially-made, over-sized bench, which allows mom or dad to sit next to him with nervous little ones so a photo can be taken.”
Low-cost digital photo packages will again be available, with a variety of photo sizes.
After meeting with Santa, families are invited to visit the Depot for complimentary hot chocolate and cookies.
In conjunction with Santa in the Caboose, the Historical Society holds a holiday bake sale in the Depot both weekends.
SOUTHSHORE MUSIC FESTIVAL, ST. MARY WESTERN DAYS AND PARK FULL OF ART
Other popular Griffith events during the year include: the SouthShore Summer Music Festival at Central Park featuring the Northwest Indiana Symphony; St. Mary’s Western Days on the church grounds; and Park Full of Art sponsored by the Griffith Park Board and held in Central Park.