On the weekend of Oct. 9-11, the Lansing Association for Community Events brings back its popular annual gathering, the Lansing Autumn Fest. Now in its 4th year, the three-day festival brings in thousands from Lansing and surrounding communities to enjoy some outdoor fun as we head into the fall season.

Kicking off on Friday, the first evening will again have an Oktoberfest theme with a German band called the Happy Wanderers, followed by Jimmy Buffet tribute band Gone 2 Paradise.

Food vendors will be serving up everything from sausage or waffle on a stick, corn on the cob, and pierogi, to tacos and elephant ears. A pancake breakfast on Saturday morning and a chili cook-off on Sunday afternoon offer more food options.

Covering three locations in downtown Lansing (Fox Pointe, Park Plaza and Winterhoff Park), the fun includes entertainment on the Dr. Michael A. Wood “Sole Man” Bandstand, a Market Place with vendors and crafters, a KidZone area with a second entertainment stage and games and activities for kids, the LCPL Phil Martini Hero 5K Run/Walk, a military recognition ceremony, vintage base ball game, chili cook-off and tailgate party. This year there will be the addition of entertainment on a third stage at Visible Music College with a concert on Friday night and an open mic night on Saturday.

‘A Lot to Offer’

The motto of Lansing Autumn Fest is “Bringing the hometown back to Lansing.” Besides giving the feeling of a small town festival, it draws in many former residents who come back to reminisce.

“Lansing Autumn Fest has a lot to offer,” says Lansing Autumn Fest chairman, Debbie Waitekus. “So much happens before the fest even takes place. It takes hundreds of hours of planning and then at least 200 volunteers generously give their time to make this fest a great success. It is a great community event that brings family and friends both young and old together to celebrate Lansing.”

Saturday’s Military Day is a big part of the festival, starting at 6:30 a.m. with registration for the LCPL Phil Martini Hero 5K Run/Walk. Honoring a Lansing native who was killed in action while serving in Iraq in 2006, proceeds benefit veterans groups and activities. A pancake breakfast will be hosted by the Lansing Copper Muggers and breakfast is free to all veterans attending. A veteran recognition ceremony will also take place that morning. “We are planning on honoring Vietnam vets,” says ceremony organizer Jane Hensley, of Lansing. “That's the focus of the program.” Students from T.F. South’s History Club have been doing research on several young men from Lansing and will present their biographies, and the Lansing Veterans Memorial Ceremonial Honor Guard will also present colors.

Vintage base ball will also be back with a team of Lansing men known as the “Lansing Brickmen” taking on the Munster Centennials in a match played with rules from the 1800s, using no gloves, pitching underhand, and with some players and fans donning period costumes.

Family-Friendly

“Lansing Autumn Fest is a family-friendly event that is a great way to spend a beautiful fall weekend enjoying great food and fun activities,” says festival co-chair Lynn Cartwright. Among the family activities are fishing lessons from Cabela’s on Friday evening, building with Home Depot on Saturday evening and inflatables throughout the weekend. The KidZone will also have carnival games, pumpkin decorating, edible necklaces, a coloring contest, balloon artist, magician, karaoke and a reptile show.

“We have something for everybody,” Cartwright says. “Take a vet to breakfast, enjoy an old-fashioned baseball game, take a hayride, enjoy the tailgate party … the choices are many. Come see some old friends, come meet some new friends, the choice is yours.”

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