WAKARUSA — The annual Wakarusa Maple Syrup Festival has added several attractions this year, including a mechanical bull and a second entertainment tent.
Event co-chair Deb Shively said the extra tent will house the John Measner Magic Show and Indiana Wild Animals Show.
The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, April 19, and 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 20, and could attract up to 15,000 visitors in good weather, Shively said.
Shively said the festival’s “free factor” is a big draw for local families, with dozens of free family activities, including sugar camp tours, historical museum tours, pony and camel rides, “Xtreme Fun Bouncy Land,” and woodcarving and chainsaw demonstrations.
Free kettle-popped popcorn will be available on the south side of the downtown square.
A popular event at the festival is the all-you-can-pancake and sausage meal hosted by local Lions clubs, Shively said.
Pancakes and sausage will be served from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in the NorthWood Middle School cafeteria, 301 N. Elkhart St. The meal is $8 for adults and $3 for children.
The Maple Syrup Festival Queen and Sweetheart will be crowned Friday evening, also at NorthWood Middle School.
Visitors can also compete in the “Minute Will Win It” competitions for adults and children, the pedal pull, bed race and the three-on-three basketball classic. Some events may require participants to pre-register. Registration information is available at wakarusamaplesyrupfestival.com.
Bakers can put their skills to the test in the maple syrup baking competition, with prizes awarded in five categories: cookies, cakes, pies, breads and rolls, and creative. Participants must register in advance and judging will be closed.
The “Wakarusa’s Got Talent” competition Saturday night will have a celebrity judge who knows a thing or two about performing for judges.
Casey Weston of Naples, Fla., made it to the Top Eight in the first season of NBC’s “The Voice.”
In addition to judging the competition at 5:30 p.m., Weston will perform from 4 to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Country singer Corey Cox will perform from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“(Cox) has been here before and he’s really good,” Shively said. “He’s an upcoming star in Nashville.”
Visitors can purchase maple syrup at NorthWood Middle School and in the downtown square.
For a full list of events check out the festival brochure on the festival’s website.