Families can get their autumn on when the Appalachian Regional Exposition Center sponsors the Southwest Fall Festival, which promises to include something for every member of the family: live music, carnival rides, hot air balloons, games, pumpkin carving, axe throwing and more.
“It’s just going to be a family-fun weekend,” said Cathy Pattison, who is overseeing plans for the festival for the APEX Authority, a group of volunteers that helps manage the facility. “We thought it would be good for public relations and is a good way to show off the APEX Center and grounds.”
Pattison said the authority has been working on the festival for more than three months.
“I reckon (Wythe County Supervisor) Joe Hale was the first person to bring it up, and we’ve just run with it,” Pattison said.
Country singer Kaitlyn Baker, from Pound, Virginia, will kick off the festival on Thursday, Oct. 10, with a concert at the center. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the show starts at 7 p.m. General admission tickets are $14; VIP seats on the floor are $20.
Baker is a singer/songwriter whose family has worked in the coal mines around Pound for generations.
She has performed coast to coast, and has opened for Brad Paisley, Craig Morgan, Brett Eldredge, Travis Tritt, Billy Currington, Chase Bryant, Rhonda Vincent, Jim Lauderdale and others.
Baker’s debut single, “Burn,” charted on Music Row’s Breakout Chart in 2015 and inspired the creation of Kaitlyn Baker’s BURN Sauce, a hot sauce produced by Pepper Palace in Sevierville, Tennessee. Her follow up singles “Coal Train” and “To Pieces” garnered national attention on music industry charts and media outlets. Her self-penned “Heart of Appalachia” song was adopted as the official theme song of the Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority, a nonprofit organization that promotes tourism.
After her concert, the Southwest Fall Festival will continue for the next three days, Friday-Sunday, Oct. 11-13. .
The fun for Friday, Oct. 11, begins at 5 p.m. and includes a Hot Air Balloon Glow, music and live radio broadcast, carnival rides from 5 to 9 p.m. ($10 wristband), face painting, axe throwing with WytheAxe, pumpkin carving, arts/crafts, a mobile video game theatre and racing car simulator (Friday and Saturday), food and drink vendors.
Activities continue on Saturday with hot air balloon flights at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., carnival rides ($15 wristband) face painting, pony and cart rides, antique tractor and lawn mower displays, a cruise-in for antique cars, axe throwing, face painting, a giant pumpkin weigh-in contest, kids pumpkin coloring and painting, arts and craft vendors. There will be a cattle sale and stock judging event from noon to 4 p.m.
Also on Saturday, there will be a Barn Dance with music by Krystal Klear ($10 admission) from 7 to 9 p.m.
On Sunday, Oct. 13, there will be a hot air balloon flight at 7 a.m. and carnival rides continue from noon to 5 p.m. ($10 wristband), the mobile video game theatre and racing car simulator from noon to 5 p.m., food and drink vendors.
The APEX Center is located off of Interstate 77/81 at exit 77. For more information on the festival visit online at www.apexcenter.org