PENHOLD – The annual Fall Festival was as close to a complete sellout as anybody could ever hope for.
But this year was far different. The Fall Festival’s featured event at the Penhold Regional Multiplex for both evenings on Sept. 11 and 12 was a drive-in movie.
And even the COVID-19 pandemic could not dampen the spirit of Penholders, as they enthusiastically came to the town’s signature event of the year.
“Attendance was great. Friday’s move was a sellout, and Saturday night was one car short of a sellout,” said Penhold mayor Mike Yargeau, noting 50 vehicles a night were allowed to attend the event. The move Friday night was Disney’s The Lion King while Penholders were entertained the next night with the action film Fast & Furious.
“It went great. Residents loved it. The food vendors were really happy,” said Yargeau, who camped out at the adjacent Penhold RV Park. “Town staff was really happy with the way everything rolled out, given the way we did the best we could with the current conditions. It was a great success.”
Yargeau noted that putting the drive-thru event together took a lot of committed work from staff, who put together a similar event for Canada Day.
The ongoing pandemic forced town organizers to cut several Fall Festival attractions, including the midway, Craft Beer Wine & Spirits Festival, pancake breakfast, and parade.
Instead this year’s Fall Festival was cut back to have a Grab & Go Food Truck Festival on both days starting at 5 p.m. in the north portion of the multiplex parking lot, followed by the drive-in movies.
The next big event for the town is Penhold’s Community Christmas that is held at the end of November. It is a one-day event that attracts hundreds of locals and out-of-towners to kick off the Christmas season.
Yargeau said the town has not made any decisions yet on how this important annual fall event will look.
“It’s colder and a lot harder to do anything indoors. That might end up changing,” said Yargeau, of the event that features the lighting of the Christmas tree in the multiplex, a silent auction, an indoor craft market, Christmas carols, sleigh rides, hot chocolate and of course Santa Claus.
“Typically we have the multiplex packed,” said the mayor. “Ninety per cent of the event is indoors.”
Yargeau conceded the town will probably not be able to do what is normally done for the event but “something” will be created for Penholders to celebrate Christmas.
“We still have a little over two months but I don’t think we are going to be seeing a relaxation allowing events like that in November.”