The organizers for the Wathena Fall Festival don’t mince words — they went all out for 2022.
Booking acts from TV shows like “The Voice” and “America’s Got Talent,” the three-day festival promises to be something special.
“It’s been a tough last couple of years with everything, all the challenges that have gone on, so I think (the organizers) wanted to bring some relief to that,” Teresa McAnerney, a member of the fall festival’s board, said.
Using the theme “Survivor,” the annual fall festival is a celebration of life and small-town living while bringing some big-name performers like country artist Casi Joy and “America’s Got Talent” featured performer The Strong Man.
The festival will be held from Sept. 2 to 4 in Downtown Wathena, Kansas. It will include all of the fall classics, like the children’s parade, a tractor pull and a greased pig contest, as well as local food and activities.
When it comes to booking big names like Joy, who will perform at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3, and The Strong Man, who will be performing throughout the weekend, McAnerney gives all the credit to organizers Heather and John Cluck.
“They wanted to focus on bringing in the musical acts to get some more entertainment that had some name recognition,” she said.
Making a name for herself on “The Voice,” Joy has turned that fame into a successful career, opening for artists like Maren Morris and Keith Urban and racking up hits like “The Money” and “Blue.”
Through the weekend, the festival also will feature local favorites like Kansas City blues artist Michael Shaun Brown, who will perform at 8 and 9:30 p.m. on Friday.
In addition to the music, McAnerney said she’s excited about all the new local food options.
“They’ve really upped the food game this year,” she said.
Some of the new choices are Cajun Food Coma, which will serve Louisiana-inspired dishes, and Fiabesco bakery, which will offer a variety of baked goods.
“There’s going to be homemade phenomenal cinnamon rolls, cookies, all different kinds of cookies, monster bars and no-bake cookies, things like that. She’ll have individual cakes for sale. When she sent me the list of what she was bringing, I said ‘I’m coming over right,’” McAnerney said laughing.
There also will be other food traditions like the Friday fried chicken dinner at 5:30 p.m. and the Sunday pancake feed at 7 a.m.
McAnerney said she’s glad the festival continues to grow and evolve while remaining true to its ethos of promoting small-town communities in the area.
“You can come and just have as much fun as you want and just hang around and sample the wares and relax. That’s what we strive for, just family fun,” she said.
The Wathena Fall Festival will run from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Friday, 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. It is free and open to all ages.