Middletown Family Fun Festival and Craft Show Is Back
Writer / Gavin LaPaille
The Middletown Family Fun Festival and Craft Show is returning for two full days of fun, food and festivities on September 9 and 10. Held in the Wetherby Park area, the annual festival will celebrate its 50th year highlighting Middletown.
“We’ve always counted it as a family-friendly festival,” says Middletown Mayor J. Byron Chapman. “We serve no alcohol. We have everything from booths to face paintings, dog shows, food, music and parades. It’s a throwback to the old-fashioned type of festival. We’re going to have entertainment in two or three locations. More people are interested because they know it’s the 50th anniversary. It’s catching on that this has been around for a while, so it is here to stay.”
Highlights of the festival include a parade, exhibits, food and craft vendors for guests to partake in. There will also be music for guests to listen to throughout the area and a Kids Zone. Even four-legged friends can get in on the fun and compete in the dog show, which will award prizes for the top three entries in categories like cutest puppy, best-dressed dog and best dog trick. The organizers usually have the festival during the month of September, when temperatures start to drop and weather is generally good.
Chapman says that as the city of Middletown has gotten larger, so has the festival.
“Middletown has grown over the last 20 years,” Chapman says. “We have plenty of good places to shop and to eat, and for people to enjoy themselves. We have apartments now that attract a younger age. There is a younger generation that gets out and spends money in the community. We provide the festival and the concerts. The city pays for the entertainment and the food. It’s free – you just come and enjoy the food. The growth of the city has made that happen. There are activities going on all year.”
After a cancellation in 2020 and uncertainty in 2021, this year brings a sense of normalcy for the festival, which has thrived over time. The fun will begin at noon on Friday, September 9 and conclude the following night with fireworks. Expecting to attract thousands of guests, Chapman uses the festival as a way to get out and interact with the community.
“I’ll be at the festival and in the parade from the time it starts to the time it finishes,” Chapman says. “It’s a long day but it’s a fun day. The parade is always fun. I just enjoy after and before the parade talking to people. If they have a concern they want to talk to me about, I’m all ears. If they have a compliment, I’m definitely all ears. We’re very accessible not only during the festival, but any time. Sometimes I think there has to be a million people here even though I know it’s not. The park is always covered with people.”
Even those who don’t reside in Middletown or visit the area frequently can still take part in the fun. The festival attracts visitors from all over the area, and Chapman hears from many who say they are impressed with what the city is doing for the community. Many visitors take the opportunity to learn more about the city, which is believed to be named after its location as the middle point between Louisville and Shelbyville.
“We attract people from all over the community,” Chapman says. “Quite frankly, the reason it has lasted for this long is people like it and keep coming back. They say they wish they lived in Middletown, or they say they hope [residents] don’t mind that they come to our festival even though they don’t live here. I tell them I’m glad, and to come on back. People realize they can come in and enjoy the fun. We welcome them any time.”
The festival provides an opportunity to highlight the city in addition to other events, like concerts also held in the park during the year, and events for Halloween and Christmas. Residents of Middletown are still part of metro Louisville, but receive additional benefits from living in Middletown.
“The metro is divided into different council districts,” Chapman says. “We have three council people who part of their territory is along the geographic outline of Middletown. I work real closely with them. Middletown is an official tax space. The city of Middletown can provide services with that tax. We provide, in addition to what metro provides, our own police department, garbage pickup, sidewalk repairs and snow removal. Every taxpayer is important. It’s an added service for the residents and they are willing to pay the added tax for those services. The majority of them feel like they are getting a good bang for their buck.”
Chapman also works with other local leaders of similar cities within Louisville including Jeffersontown, St. Matthews and Anchorage. He says sometimes government functions better at smaller levels, and thinks Middletown is a strong example of this.
“We feed off each other,” Chapman says. “If one of us has done it and it worked or didn’t work, we converse back and forth – Jeffersontown, Anchorage, St. Matthews, Prospect. All the suburban cities, I work real well with them. We just work together to make sure we are being as efficient as we can so we can provide more services.”
Chapman wants to see the city of Middletown continue to grow with events like the festival, and attract even more people to the area.
“We want to keep the city vibrant,” Chapman says. “I always believed the city either grows or starts declining. We don’t want it to decline because that isn’t good for people and business. I thank the residents and the business owners for continuing to support the city and everything they do. We want to maintain a big-time look in a small-time city.”
For more festival information, visit middletownsfamilyfun.com.