The leaves are changing, the Ohio River boat docks are emptying, the temperatures are cooling down in the mornings and warming up in the afternoon, these things can only mean one thing, Autumn is here! Along with welcoming Autumn, local residents are anxiously awaiting the last festival of the year, Autumn on the River.
This year Historic Bethlehem is celebrating the 22nd Annual Autumn on the River Festival to be held this weekend, October 18 and 19 in historic Bethlehem. Festival hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 12 noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
“We have been planning this all year. Now we are excited and ready for the festival. Joe (Madera), President of Historic Bethlehem, has worked hard preparing for this weekend all year long. I always look forward to the festival weekend each year. I love talking with old friends and meeting new friends during the two days in Bethlehem,” stated David Abbott, Co-Chair of Autumn on the River. “Co-Chair Andi (Oles) and I are so excited about this year’s festival. The weather looks like it is going to be a beautiful weekend. Our goal, as it is every year, is for everyone to come down the hill and have a great time without spending a whole lot of money.”
The festival will kick off with a live auction at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning. Festival goers will be able to enjoy a homemade breakfast of biscuits and gravy beginning at 8 a.m. The planning committee was able to try out the new recipe for the homemade biscuits and gravy by Josie Althaus, the newest member of the planning committee, along with her husband, Carl during the committee’s last meeting.
“I will have to give the biscuits and gravy two thumbs up! I will definitely recommend that friends come down early to have breakfast before the auction,” Abbott stated.
Along with the live auction, a silent auction will be held both days. The silent auction winners will be awarded items at the end of the day on Saturday and Sunday. Silent auction items will be available for bidding at the Information Booth located next the stage.
“We always have a nice crowd for the auction. I like to stand in the back and watch the auction. I know we have had a lot of nice items donated for the auctions, both the live and silent auction. It should be a great auction for us this year,” Abbott added. “Eric Schnatter has been hitting the pavement for months collecting items for the auctions. He has worked extremely hard to make sure we have some awesome items to auction this year. I know we have items from the Indianapolis Colts, tickets to Derby Dinner Playhouse, Actor’s Theater, Ali Center, Indiana Caverns and Louisville Mega Caverns, just to name a few. I know the newest donations for the auction are a large collection of NASCAR die cast metal cars in the boxes, New chainsaw, Antique wooden spinning wheel. There will definitely be something for everyone and every budget.”
A horseshoe tournament will be held beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The horseshoe pits are located in the north east corner of the school yard.
Saturday’s entertainment line up will begin with Kendra and Scott at 12 noon. Entertainment will be on the stage from noon until 2 p.m. on Saturday. A break on the stage will begin as a tribute to our Veterans will be held at 2 p.m.
The annual Veterans Tribute will be held at 2 p.m. During the tribute Abbott along with State Representative Terry Goodin will lead a moment of silence in honor of Corporal Jordan Spears, the first American killed in U.S. military operations against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. According to reports, Corporal Spears, 21, of Memphis, was a crewman aboard a V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft flying off the USS Makin Island and went into the sea when the aircraft lost power shortly after takeoff. Spears grew up in Memphis and was a 2011 graduate of Silver Creek High School.
Directly after the Veterans Tribute the parade will begin at 2:30 p.m. The theme for the parade is “The Good Old Days.” This year’s Parade Grand Marshals are Andy Hutsell and Dale Brown. Miss Clark County Coari Rae Robertson will also be participating in this year’s parade.
“Be sure to come early and get the best seat for the parade. I am sure it will be a great parade this year. We are honored to have the co-chairs this year. Andy and Dale are great guys. They have displayed their tractors at the festival for as long as I can remember. This is just a small token of our appreciation for their commitment to Autumn on the River. We are also excited to have Miss Clark County with us for the parade this year. Coari Robertson has represented Clark County well since being crowned Miss Clark County and I am sure she will continue to do so,” Abbott added with a smile.
Immediately following the parade will be the third annual Dessert Auction. Again this year proceeds from the dessert auction will benefit the New Washington High School Alumni Scholarship Fund in memory of Dan Waterfill. Donations of cakes, pies, cookies, etc. are still being accepted for the dessert auction. You can bring your dessert to the festival on Saturday morning and drop it off at the Information Booth. Also, for your convenience you may drop your dessert item off at the New Washington branch of The New Washington State Bank tomorrow, Thursday, October 16, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Friday, October, 17, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. or on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon.
“Rachel Bussey has worked hard to make sure the dessert auction will be successful again this year. She did a fantastic job for us last year and is just picking up where she left off,” Abbott stated.
After the dessert auction, live entertainment will again take the stage to rock Bethlehem. Rinker’s Creek and Burning Daylight will hit the stage from 3:15 to the close of the festival at 6 p.m.
“We will also have a helicopter with us all day Saturday. For a small fee you can enjoy a helicopter ride around the beautiful town of Bethlehem. I have heard the sights during the helicopter ride are breath-taking. I think I may even try to take a ride in the helicopter this year.”
Along with helicopter rides there will be carriage rides through the quaint little town. The carriage rides will be offered all day on Saturday and Sunday.
Sunday will bring more live entertainment to open the day.
David Broughton will entertain the crowd from 12 noon to 1 p.m. with beautiful Gospel music.
The ever popular local group, The Marlinaires will take the stage from 2 to 5 p.m. For more information about The Marlinaires please visit their website at www.themarlinaires.com.
“I always enjoy The Marlinaires. I love to look out and see people sitting on the hay bales and clapping their hands to the music. We even have people get up and dance during the show. They just put on a great show and people really enjoy it,” Abbott added.
Autumn on the River will feature over 60 booths. Strolling around the school yard visitors will find homemade crafts, candles, purses and of course festival yummies. Booth space is still available for the festival. Please contact Historic Bethlehem President Joe Madera for more information at 502-553-0926.
“No festival would be complete without the usual festival treats like funnel cakes, persimmon pudding, corn dogs, roasted corn and popcorn!,” stated Abbott. “We will also have the Clark County Cattlemen grilling up their delicious grilled ribeye sandwiches. I know right now my wife, Cheri, is busy preparing the sweet stuff for her booth. She is getting ready to make some delicious persimmon pudding. She always sells out each year. It is always a big hit!”
The Charlestown American Legion Women’s Auxiliary will be working the kitchen in the basement of the school. Festival goers can come in, sit down and enjoy a bowl of soup, hot dog and a soft drink.
“The Women’s Auxiliary will offer bean soup, chili, corn bread and hot dogs. You can have a nice meal for a small fee. Every time I go down to the basement, it is full of people enjoying their lunch or dinner and definitely enjoying talking with friends and family,” Abbott said.
Another option for festival goers to socialize will be in the Gathering Room. The Gathering Room will be located upstairs in the restored 1927 school house. There will be comfortable chairs around the meet and greet area along with checkers, games and coloring sheets for the kids. A quilt display, doll display, along with other handmade items will also be located in the school house. Historic Bethlehem’s Mark Waterfill will also be inside the schoolhouse selling the ever popular, delicious fresh cookies for the festival goer with a sweet tooth.
The Clark County Homemakers will host a quilt raffle during this year’s Autumn on the River. Tickets may be purchased in the meet and greet area.
Clark Memorial Hospital staff will be on hand both days of the upcoming festival to offer flu shots. Flu shots will be available for $15 cash only both days of the festival. Clark Memorial will also be offering free blood pressure screenings during the festival.
Many festival goers come back year after year to see the tractor and car display. Each year local residents bring their tractors, cars and trucks to the festival for a special display.
Another special display again this year will be the display of American flags. There will be 4,000 small American flags representing the service men and women that have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
“Bill Hostetler has always done a great job for the display and so much more for the festival. Bill brings inmates working in the Clark County Sheriff Department’s inmate program down the week before and a few days after the festival. They do all the clean up of the festival grounds and area surrounding the grounds. They put up the tents and take the tents down after the festival. The inmates work hard and we are grateful Bill oversees this program each year. They do a fantastic job on the flag display,” Abbott stated. “I also want to thank Clark County Sheriff Brian Meyer for allowing Bill to bring the inmates down to help us with the festival. It is such a big help for all involved.”
Parking for the event will be held in the field next to the school house. Parking will be free but donations are accepted. Girl Scout Troop #6208 of Scottsburg will be on hand both days to help festival goers with parking.
Abbott continued, “We may even have a surprise visit from Abe Lincoln this year. You just never know who you may see when you come down to Autumn on the River.”
Abbott gave praise to all the volunteers who continue to give their time to help make the festival successful.
“Every year we have many volunteers who continue to come and donate their time to help with the festival. Most people have no idea how many hours go into planning a community festival,” Abbott said. “I know without a doubt, without the commitment from these dedicated volunteers, Autumn on the River would not be successful year after year.”
Abbott stated, “Looks like we are going to have perfect weather this weekend. What more could we ask for? Just go over and pick up grandma and grandpa, aunts and uncles, the kids and your neighbors and come down the hill to Bethlehem. I promise you will have a great time. There will be lots of yummy food, great entertainment and beautiful crafts. You can come down with the family and spend the day.”
“I always say this is the biggest family reunion in Clark County. We have lots of families that meet here every year to spend the weekend together. We will have something for everyone. Be sure to come down and enjoy the beautiful town during this 22nd annual Autumn on the River Festival. I hope to see you there!”
Directions to Autumn on the River: Coming from Jeffersonville, take Highway 62 to New Washington. Take a right at the flashing light on New Washington-Bethlehem Road. Travel New Washington- Bethlehem Road approximately eight miles to Bethlehem.
Coming from Hanover: Take Highway 62 about 10 miles to New Washington. Turn left at the flashing light onto New Washington- Bethlehem Road. Travel approximately eight miles on New Washington- Bethlehem Road into Bethlehem.