Farmers National Bank Autumn Leaf Festival

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The Farmers National Bank Autumn Leaf Festival™ is a 9-day internationally award-winning festival attracts over 300,000 people to the Clarion Area every year. Like any other festival there is an abundance of food, events and entertainment such as Swank's Steel City Shows (carnival rides/amusements), Riverhill Battery Warehouse Power Wheels Derby, Cultural Nights, Clarion University's Homecoming weekend and football game, concerts, as well as all of our major events listed at the Clarion Area Chamber of Business and Industry. The Autumn Leaf Festival™ or "ALF" as the locals and college kids call it, will have you leaving wanting more and loving the small town culture that is Clarion Pennsylvania.

Brief History[edit]

This annual festival began in 1953 Clarion, Pennsylvania, it became the first recognized Autumn Leaf Festival™ to be held during the Clarion State College Homecoming. Businesses were asked to decorate, adding a touch of color to the town.[1] Ruth Neiger from Brockway served as Homecoming Queen that year. Little did she or the others involved with the very beginning of Autumn Leaf Festival, know what it would become. Going back to those earlier years offers insight into the history of Autumn Leaf Festival™.

The following year, 1954, the Clarion Chamber of Commerce had an idea. Since the leaves were colored and beautiful during the fall, a larger festival would attract even more people to the area. Two parades were offered. The first was held from 9:30 a.m. until noon. It included veterans from foreign wars, Girl Scouts, volunteer firemen, the Lions Club, the Autumn Leaf Queen’s float, and seven Clarion County bands. Redbank’s band received a $50 prize for first place. Two and a half hours later, the Clarion State Teachers College held their homecoming parade with many beautiful floats made by local fraternities and as the years went on local sororities joined in the parade. In 1958, the Autumn Leaf Festival earned status as a permanent event. The Chamber implemented a committee to organize the festivities. Both high schools and college worked together producing impressive floats for the parade. With bands, cars, horses, marching units, and drill teams, joining the floats, this year’s parade lasted an hour and 15 minutes and was thought to be the best and longest ever seen in Clarion. The Clarion Republican quoted this year as “Best Autumn Leaf Festival Yet is enjoyed by Thousands”.[2]

Food Vendors[edit]

During the nine-day festival food vendors come and set up their wonderful food that the town does not experience quite often. Vendors go through the Clarion Area Chamber to register and get permission to set up their food stand. A popular and diverse mix of food is a highlight during the festival. Well known vendors such as western Pennsylvania's Bruster's signature ice cream and Quaker Steak & Lube come a make quite a profit. Other food vendors that are set up at the festival are hardy guilty pleasures and a variety of cultural delicacies. This festival has continued to decline in recent years. Less and less food vendors , the entire feel and atmosphere is far from what it once was . Vendors who sell a particular food , i.e. sausage sandwich for example are not permitted to sell at this event because a particular organization sells sausage sandwiches . The food choices are far from what past festivals offered .


The Miss Teen Autumn Leaf Festival™ scholarship pageant became a permanent event in 1977. On this particular "ALF" the same events have become reoccurring. The pageant started out as just a homecoming queen who got to ride in the parade. As the years progressed more and more competitions for girls and boys became apparent. However, as the years went boys became less interested and the girls continued on. Thus the Miss Teen Autumn Leaf Festival was created and is still a wonderful scholarship program to this day.

A picture of the crafters day during the Autumn Leaf Festival where patrons come to find almost anything from food to furniture. This unique part of the festival is an anticipated treasure hunt to all those who participate in ALF.

Farmers and Crafters Day[edit]

Another popular trademark event is the Farmers and Crafters Day that usually occurs during the last Friday of the nine-day festival. This festival started in 1977 and was originally called Farmers and Merchants Day Craft Show. On this day, 10,000-plus patrons and students come out to observe, buy from or promote the craft stands that line the main street of Clarion on both sides for a mile and a half. The crafters day is such a highlight that local Clarion University of Pennsylvania gives its students a "mid-semester break", so they can enjoy the crafters day, the following day, to the fullest.[3]

Tournament of Leaves Parade[edit]

In 1956, the annual “Tournament of Leaves” parade was one of the highlights of the Clarion State Teachers College Homecoming. Clarion businesses donated monetary prizes for the float competition whose theme followed movie titles.[4] From the food to the parade the Farmers National Bank Autumn Leaf Festival™, internationally recognized festival, is a big part of the community. It gives those in the Clarion area something to look forward to and has been the focal point of get togethers of every kind. It's a tradition that has been going on for over 50 years and shows no signs of ever letting up.[5]


  1. ^ Archived from the original on July 1, 2009. Retrieved June 8, 2011.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ Archived from the original on July 1, 2009. Retrieved June 8, 2011.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ "Changing Leaves" by Scott Lyon
  4. ^ Clarion, PA: Website
  5. ^ All information was obtained from The Clarion Republican. The years 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1977, and 1991 were our resources.