OREGON – This is a very busy time for Debbie Dickson.
As president of Autumn on Parade, the popular Oregon festival, Dickson is in the final stretch of preparations for the 51st year of the event, set for Oct. 1 and 2.
“I’m feeling good,” Dickson said in a recent interview. “It’s all the last-minute little details that can’t be managed until the last minute.”
Autumn on Parade, which started in 1970, features an extensive farmer’s market/craft show, parade, a Fun Zone for kids, a beer garden with live music, a large food court and more.
This is Dickson’s first year back as president, but she has a long history with Autumn on Parade. She served 10 years on the committee of volunteers and was also president for 10 years before taking a short break. She is back and ready to keep the festival popular and fun for the family.
“I love this festival,” she said. “I love this town!”
But a festival this large takes a lot of work and a lot of people. Dickson said the importance of volunteers can’t be overstated.
“They are the backbone of so many events and activities,” she said.
While many of the people serving on the committee are new, Dickson said they always bring great ideas and a lot of enthusiasm.
“The enthusiasm and ‘can do, get ‘er done’ attitude is so refreshing and it’s heart-warming,” she said.
Dickson said this year they are sticking with things that people like, while expanding offerings.
“We are really working on expanding the Fun Zone and hands-on interactive for the kids and the families,” she said.
The beer garden, meant to be a one-time attraction for the 50th anniversary celebration last year – pushed back a year due to COVID-19 – will also be back. Dickson said they got so much positive feedback on the beer garden, that it and the live music in the space will be returning this year.
Also, shuttle service from Park East and back, and to Stronghold will be free this year.
“We are going to cover those costs,” Dickson said.
And to that end, she encouraged people to purchase 60/40 tickets at Autumn on Parade. Not only do winners get 60 percent while the festival gets 40 percent, she said it helps to cover costs.
“People really don’t understand the cost of this,” she said, adding the the parade alone can cost up to $20,000.
To that end, she again praised all of the support from local sponsors, like primary sponsor Woods, but also local governmental bodies and local businesses.
“The city and Chamber and the Park District as well have done a fabulous job over the course of the last, now 51 years, of supporting all of our needs,” Dickson said. “We’re so grateful for that support.”
So as the days tick down and the festival looms, Dickson is also keeping an eye on the forecast.
“We all know that weather drives the bus for outdoor festivities. Everybody knows the four-letter ‘R’ word is not allowed around me the entire month of September,” she said with a laugh.
For more information about Autumn on Parade, please go to autumnonparade.com.