With attractions slated for the whole family, around 5,000 people are expected to attend this year’s Anna Harvest Fest next Saturday at Slayter Creek Park.

The free festival, which will run from noon to 6 p.m. on Oct. 26, will include live music, a Kids Fun Zone, costume contest and more. There will also be a number of dining options in the food court and more than 30 vendors selling a variety of goods.

“Anna Harvest Fest means a variety of things, depending on which section of our community is being addressed,” Greater Anna Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kevin Hall said via email. “For our residential community, this is a time to get together for a free, family event. Walking through the park you hear many people laughing and talking, while checking out the vendors, bounce houses and stage activities.”

Those stage activities start at noon with registration for the costume contest, which is open to all ages, followed by White Street Band at 1 p.m. and Lift Dance Fitness Arts at 2 p.m. The costume contest will be held at 2:45 p.m. and then the Fierce Motions in Dance performance is set for 4 p.m., with Kaitlyn Sparks set to take the stage at 5 p.m.

“For the business community, this is a time to connect with community members outside of the four walls of their stores,” Hall said. “A few of these businesses are nonprofits and churches. This is a great way for them to be out in the community giving back by volunteering their time to represent their organizations. Plus, we have many business members who work from home and would have little to no other access to share their mission with so many people at one time.”

Hall said the festival has been growing over the past few years, along with the Anna community.

“There are two welcome areas into the park where we have volunteers click counting attendees, which is where the estimated 5,000 in attendance number was established,” Hall said. “In part, we attribute the attendance rising to the continuance of complimentary admission to the festival. This is key in allowing all citizens, and those in surrounding communities, incentive to attend the festival. The weather last year was also warmer than usually. With the event taking place outside, that can be a factor in how many people attend and how long they stay at the festival.”

One thing that won’t be at the Harvest Fest this year is hot air balloons, as had been the norm during the former Anna Glow Fest, which dates back to 2009.

“After the 9th Anna Glow Fest in 2017, we listened to the attendees and investors on their notice that the hot air balloon portion of the event was too unpredictable due to the dependence on weather,” Hall said. “Hot air balloons require a low wind in the atmosphere in order to protect the safety of riders and speculators. Unfortunately, the past few years our Texas weather did not want to cooperate. Thus, after much discussion and consideration our Greater Anna Chamber Board of Directors changed the event to Anna Harvest Fest.”

Hall said this festival was one of the first fundraisers for the Chamber, and the city of Anna and the Anna Community Development Corporation have been wonderful to work with, as have the more than 50 community partners that are working with the Chamber to help put on the festival.

“As our presenting sponsor, the Anna CDC has helped ensure that we are able to keep this event open to the public at no charge to attend,” Hall said. “It is our privilege to connect our businesses and residents together during this event.”

Hall said the Anna community’s support has been a huge factor in the continued success of Harvest Fest, but he stressed that those from outside Anna are welcome as well.

“It is open to all, even those living in Melissa and other cities nearby,” Hall said. “Parking and entry are free; however, make sure to have some money or a card ready in case you get hungry. There will be food trucks on site, as well as, vendors selling items such as jewelry, clothing and specialty items. With Christmas just around the corner you might find a unique gift for a loved one.”