History

Purpose of the Festival

All proceeds from the Festival are used towards improving and beautifying Historic Downtown Duluth. To see some of the projects undertaken by the Duluth Fall Festival, see the Festival Projects page.

Growth of the Duluth Fall Festival

From its humble beginnings in 1983, the Festival has changed immensely. The number of committees has grown from three to more than 50, the number of volunteers has grown from 25 to almost 400, and the number of Arts & Crafts vendors and Food booths has grown from less than 40 to more than 350.

In 1985, the first official T-shirts were donated by Tom Martin of Citizen’s Bank. They are still a much sought-after item, and many sponsors join the Festival ranks just to get their names on the shirt. In 1997, the Sponsor committee was created, and now the Festival has more than 100 sponsors who, when combined, contribute more than $100,000 every year.

Today, the Duluth Fall Festival is one of the most successful festivals in the southeast, with attendance consistently upwards of 100,000.

Festival Time Line

Almost every year, something monumental has been added to or provided by the Festival as shown in the following timeline:

  • 2016 Parson’s Alley Enhancements and Mosiac
  • 2015 Purchased Red Clay Theater Marquees
  • 2015 Developed Parsons’ Alley (in progress)
  • 2015 Donated to “The DreamKeepers” art project
  • 2014 Redecorated the Duluth Festival Center
  • 2013 Donated $25,000 to Red Clay Theatre
  • 2012 Festival Center – final loan payment (Total paid: $1,300,000.00)
  • 2011 Eastern Continental Divide Monument
  • 2009 Taylor Park Entrance and Sponsor Board
  • 2006 Festival Center Courtyard
  • 2001 Town Green & Festival Center
  • 1996 Taylor Park purchase

Community Fellowship

Although the annual Festival is the organization’s biggest claim to fame, developing life-long friendships is another important goal. In a world where many people don’t know their own neighbors and seek community roots, we are proud to offer a pathway for people to connect through community relationships.

To promote these budding friendships, the Festival committee sponsors many activities throughout the year, including: monthly meetings, downtown work days, a Summer Rally, the Taste of Duluth, an annual community luncheon (for sponsors, volunteers, city workers, first responders, and others) and a community Christmas Tree Lighting. To become a Festival volunteer, see the Volunteer Information page.