By MATT KOESTERS
Big things will be going on in Bethlehem when the small town celebrates its bicentennial at the 20th-annual Autumn on the River festival this Saturday and Sunday.
“We just want people to come down and have a good time, and not spend a lot of money,” festival co-chairman Dave Abbott said. “Go to the booths and do what you want, but we want you to get something to eat [and] sit on a bale of straw.”
The annual fall festival will feature 65 vendor booths and live entertainment throughout the day in the rural, picturesque setting. But don’t expect any carnival rides.
The event will kick off at 10 a.m. Saturday with a live auction. All proceeds from the auction will go toward maintaining the historic Bethlehem School, which houses a veteran’s wall of honor, school class pictures, genealogy records and other artifacts from the school’s heyday. The school will be open for tours and talks on the history of Bethlehem throughout both days of the festival.
At noon on Saturday, the festival’s new, permanent stage will host “Bethlehem has Talent,” followed by a tribute to local veterans at 2 p.m.
A parade will travel along New Washington-Bethlehem Road at 2:30 p.m., and musical act The Marlinaires will take to the stage from 3-6 p.m. to close out the day.
The Marlinaires will also perform to close out Sunday’s events from 3-5 p.m.
“They’ve got the kind of music that hits everybody,” Abbott said. “You’ve got people standing up, clapping [or] sitting on that bale of straw. [Audience members have] got a corn dog in one hand and a Coke in the other ... and they sit around and have a good time.”
Other musical acts on Sunday will include The Joymakers and Under Construction.
Autumn on the River will also feature a tractor show and a car show. For more information about the event, visit www.autumnontheriver.com.