The Popcorn Festival is an enormous production, involving hundreds of people who put in hundreds of hours to make a memorable experience for thousands of festival goers. None of it would be possible without the direction of Valparaiso Community Festivals & Events, and executive director Tina St. Aubin gives us a little insight into this year’s fun.
The Popcorn Festival is the labor of love for many different organizations and individuals working in all areas of the festival, says St. Aubin. “All the components of the festival make it great. There’s the kids area, the parade, the race, the main stage entertainment, the vendor booths, the games, the food, the artists, and it is all possible through the help of a number of community organizations and not-for-profits who come out to help. We have organizations that run the north parking lot, another running the south parking lot, Boy Scouts selling popcorn, another group of Boy Scouts by the main stage, everywhere we have groups making it all happen and all of these pieces help create the success. Without those pieces we simply couldn’t do it. The VCFE has a staff of three. There is no possible way we could do it without them. That’s the uniqueness of the festival—how many people come together and put in a good day’s work for so many people to enjoy,” says St. Aubin.
How many people come to enjoy the many festivities? St. Aubin says, “Anywhere between 50,000 to 60,000 attend that one day. And each year the Popcorn Festival gets better and better. With the creation of Central Park Plaza and our careful selection of vendors, some really great quality artisans and crafters, the festival is superb. Our vendors showcase their business, their product, and how they make a mark on Valparaiso. We have made this easier for our vendors and those involved by taking away the theme. We used to have a theme and people felt constrained with their creativity, but now people can focus on the community and it has really worked well. Our goal is to keep pushing the quality of the festival, keeping our main stage performance an event that will appeal to a wide group of attendees, and it all makes it a success.”
The Valparaiso Popcorn Festival is located in beautiful downtown Valparaiso. Arts and craft booths will open at 7 a.m. on September 7th, along with the Popcorn Panic Race. Plenty of off-site parking is available with a shuttle bringing you downtown. Celebrating its 35th year and named the “Best Festival of the Region” by The Times readers for 15 years, the Valparaiso Popcorn Festival continues to offer family-fun activities for all ages. Over 200 arts and crafts booths, 30 food booths, kids’ games, the five-mile Popcorn Panic, and the nation’s First Popcorn Parade are only the beginning of the excitement of this incredible festival.