Tens of thousands of people attend the Clayton Harvest and Music Festival each year. New additions this year, coupled with other downtown events, could make the 2014 festival the biggest draw ever.
The five-day festival opens Wednesday with the Clayton Idol singing competition and runs through Sunday afternoon, with carnival rides and food available every day.
The main day is Saturday, where from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. more than 230 vendors will set up shop in an Artist’s Village, Health and Fitness Village and Kid’s Corner. The North Tower Band, one of 25 music, dance and singing acts scheduled to perform on Saturday, will play at 7 p.m. on the PNC Bank main stage on Town Square.
“I’m expecting this to be our biggest festival,” said Hannah Pellas, who’s among the event organizers at the Clayton Chamber of Commerce. The festival is the chamber’s largest fundraiser, and many chamber members sponsor parts of the event.
Jewelers, craftspeople and artists will show and sell their works, give demonstrations and host a sidewalk chalk competition from 9 a..m. to 7 p.m. in the Artist’s Village in the Hometowne Realty parking lot. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., car enthusiasts will hold a classic car show on Main Street alongside the main vendor fair, while a Health and Fitness Village will be held in The Clayton Mart parking lot.
In the Kid’s Corner, at The Wagner House, children can make crafts from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and meet their favorite princess and hero characters from 1:30 to 3 p.m.
Kelly Norman, who owns and operates the historic Wagner, said she makes sure not to schedule any weddings or events during the festival.
“Why would I close my doors and have 100 people in my house when I could open my doors and have 15,000 people in the house?” Norman said.
Five food trucks will be at Town Square from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday.
Leading up to the weekend, the Clayton Idol competition kicks off the festivities at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday on Town Square. The singing competition, modeled after the popular TV show “American Idol,” has three divisions: Junior Clayton Idol, ages 5-11; Teen Clayton Idol, ages 12-17; and Clayton Idol, ages 18-25. The winners will perform Saturday on the festival’s main stage and ride in the Clayton Christmas parade in December.
Singers also have a chance to shine during a Clayton Karaoke Contest at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.
On Thursday, the rock band Nantucket will play at 7 p.m. on Town Square. The performance rounds out the Town Square Concert Series, which started in May.
On Friday, the ongoing Zaxby’s Movie Night series will feature “Frozen.” Characters from the movie will be on site at 6 p.m., and the screening starts at 7:30 p.m.
The Town of Clayton hosts the concert series and the movie nights on Town Square. Downtown Development coordinator Bruce Naegelen said rolling the town events into the festival’s schedule increases options for residents.
“It’s evolved over the years into a real four- and five-day event,” Naegelen said. “It’s become a bigger event than just a carnival.”
Carnival rides are open from 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. Rides are open all day on Saturday and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. The Harvest and Music Festival Pageant will close out all events at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Pellas said the budget for this year’s festival is about $30,000.
For more information, go to www.claytonchamber.com.