WAKARUSA — New additions to this year's Wakarusa Maple Syrup Festival include a family circus, performances by two former American Idol contestants and an extra day of festivities.
The festival kicks off its 45th year on Friday, April 25, and lasts through Sunday, April 27.
This is the first year to include Sunday in festival events, according to Deb Shively, co-chair of the festival board. She estimates that 16,000 to 20,000 people will travel to Wakarusa for the syrup celebration.
Event highlights include performances by former American Idol contestants Joanna Beasley and Kendall Phillips.
Beasley, a Christian music artist, will perform from 7:30 to 8:45 p.m. Friday. Phillips, a country singer and song writer, will perform from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
Another attraction is the Kent Family Circus, who will perform nine free shows throughout the weekend. Their website describes them as a "hybrid of circus, theater and vaudeville, with a sprinkle of side-show."
Shively said one of the festival's cornerstones is the Lions Club's all-you-can eat pancake and sausage breakfast, hosted from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the NorthWood Middle School cafeteria, 301 N. Elkhart Street. The cost is $8 for adults and $4 for children.
The Maple Syrup Festival Queen and Sweetheart will be crowned at 6 p.m. Friday at Northwood Middle School. A festival parade will travel through downtown at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Other activities and events include baking contests, sugar camp tours, musical performances, free popcorn giveaways, helicopter rides, talent and photo contests, an array of food vendors, animal shows, a tractor show and a pedal pull.
The festival takes place in downtown Wakarusa and is hosted by the Wakarusa Chamber of Commerce. A downloadable brochure and full list of events is available on the Chamber's website.