CAMDEN — Camden’s 34th annual Black Walnut Festival will be held this weekend, Saturday, Oct. 15, and Sunday, Oct 16, with his year’s slogan: “Nuts Welcome!”
“2021 was our first year as organizers for the festival and it went so well. Plus, we learned a lot,” said Donna Cross, President of Camden Comeback. “This year we are truly making it our own.”
The 2022 Black Walnut Festival begins at 9 a.m. both days and features 145 vendors. Organizers saw another year of significant vendor interest this year and after adding 20 spots, still sold out of vendor space in August.
“Word of mouth was game changing for us after last year’s Festival. About a third of our vendors are new this year and we have vendors coming from five different states.” Cross said. “We are excited about that and especially the quality of our vendors.”
A new attraction at this year’s festival is the Kid Zone, with lots of activities for kids and families — all free thanks to sponsors.
“The Village of Camden partnered with us to add the Kid Zone and then generous local businesses sponsored the many activities for kids, including bounce houses, barrel train rides, kiddie tractor pull, face painting, petting zoo, balloon and caricature artists, an art show, crafts, yard games and more,” Cross added.
“Radio station Kicks 96 will be on hand Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. to help us celebrate this new addition to the festival.”
The Black Walnut Festival parade begins at 10 a.m. Saturday morning and the fun continues for the rest of the weekend with a car show, live entertainment in two venues, a beer garden, kid zone, baking contest and auction, 50/50 and various basket raffles.
And food trucks — according to Debbie Mason, Camden Comeback’s Communications Chair, “Most of our food vendors are returning this year and we worked hard to recruit new ones as well. There will be 23 food trucks selling just about anything your heart desires.”
Food includes burgers and hot dogs, steak sandwiches, gyros, BBQ pork and chicken, fish dinners, loaded potatoes, pork chop dinners, pizza, sugar waffles, funnel cakes, kettle corn, lemonade shake-ups, shaved ice, pumpkin rolls, cheesecake and our very own Camden Family Lions Club’s famous hand-cranked ice cream.
“The festival is more than great craft vendors, it’s a food-lover’s paradise too,” Mason said.
“We’ll have live music in two areas of the festival this year and we’re particularly excited about our Saturday evening concert. Recording artist Jay Jesse Johnson, a rock/blues singer, is our headliner,” Mason continued. “He’s widely known and hugely popular. It’ll be a fun concert.”
While the festival’s craft vendor section will close at 5 p.m. on Saturday, food vendors and the beer garden will remain open from 5-7 p.m. for the concert.
“We want to thank all of our sponsors and donors this year. Without them, we simply couldn’t put on the festival that we do,” Cross said. “Their support makes it all possible.”
In addition to the festival fare, Camden Comeback is offering its popular Haunted Camden tours again this year on Friday and Saturday evenings at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. The wagon tour travels through Camden while participants learn of strange, scary and true tales from Camden’s rich and eerie past. Each tour includes a hands-on educational demonstration with local paranormal group Southern Ohio Supernatural.
When the Black Walnut Festival sold out of vendor spaces so early, some asked the organization why they didn’t just make the festival bigger.
Mason explained, “Bigger isn’t necessarily better. Our goal isn’t to be the biggest. It’s to be one of the best. We want to be the festival that folks can’t wait to come back to each year. Better is better. And we’re doing that.”
Visitors will find more information about the Black Walnut Festival, a schedule of events and a festival map at camdencomeback.org. Camden Comeback is a non-profit organization dedicated to Camden’s revitalization through its support of Camden’s businesses and non-profit organizations, coordinating and supporting community events and activities, and fostering a sense of shared community.