Crowds browse tents along Historic Walnut Street during Cider Days
Big crowds are expected on for the 25th Cider Days on Historic Walnut Street, Sept. 16-17. (Photo: Downtown Springfield Association)

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The team at the Downtown Springfield Association can’t help but feel a little nostalgic as it prepares for Cider Days on Historic Walnut Street, Sept. 16-17. This is, after all, the 25th edition of the festival, which serves as an unofficial kickoff to fall in the Queen City.

“We’re super excited. The weather looks great and we’re excited to really kick off fall this weekend,” Hailey Magnus, DSA communications manager, said. “We’re especially excited that it’s our 25th anniversary. This is a really nostalgic event for the community. I know I, personally, have a lot of nostalgia connected to it, growing up around here and being one of those little kids on the dance stages. We’re happy to bring back this classic fall festival.”

The fest takes place on Walnut Street, from John Q. Hammons Parkway to National Avenue, and is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. both days. Admission is $5, with children ages 5 and under free.

Expect some throwbacks — including mini horses

Magnus said organizers have a few throwbacks planned, including a special limited edition T-shirt that will be for sale alongside this year’s original design. The DSA teamed up with Springfield company SGFCO on the retro design.

There will also be mini horses at the festival for the first time in, well, quite a while.

“We found out there were mini horses at the first Cider Days, so we’ve brought that back,” Magnus said. “We have Reasons Rescue Ranch bringing out a couple of mini horses both days. They aren’t offering rides, but you can pet and hug them.”

Looking for a horsey hug? You can find the mini horses in the grassy lot adjacent to the One Parkway Place condominium building, on the west end of the festival footprint.

Two women modeling Cider Days on Historic Walnut Street T-shirts
There are two T-shirt designs for this year’s Cider Days on Historic Walnut Street. The Downtown Springfield Association teamed up with SGFCO for a limited-edition throwback design, right, to commemorate the festival’s 25th year. (Photo submitted by Downtown Springfield Association)

Get fall arts and crafts from a wide variety of vendors

Magnus said there are about 90 vendors participating in this year’s Cider Days, selling candles, fabric and fiber art, glass, jewelry, paintings, wood carvings and more. Alongside annual favorites like Corvus Moon Pottery, Lewd Linens and Carved in Stone are several new artists and crafters.

“I am excited to have a woman named Jennifer Danko, who has Jen’s Framed Flowers,” Magnus said. “Her stuff is very cool. We also have Day Four Photography, which we’re excited about. (Andrew Mann) is a local photographer, but he also works at our local library, so we’re excited to have him around. And we have Brandie’s Bazaar. She offers a lot of crocheted items including stuffed animals, which we thought were really neat.”

A full list of vendors and a map of the festival are available on the Cider Days website so you can plan ahead.

Bring your appetite

A sign reading "Artistree: Paint your own pottery" sits outside a tent that has tables and chairs set up inside
Artistree Pottery is one of about 90 vendors participating in Cider Days on Historic Walnut Street, Sept. 16-17. (Photo submitted by Downtown Springfield Association)

Walnut Street festivals are always a foodie delight. Cider Days will be no different. More than 20 food vendors and food trucks will be on-site, including Pineapple Whip, Jamaican Patty Co. and Ozark Empire Fairgrounds Concessions.

“We’ve got our classics, like Greek Belly and Lae’s Authentic Egg Rolls. Those are always big hits,” Magnus said. “But then we also have some new faces on that front as well. We’ve got the Wonkie Waffle, which I’m very excited about. We’ve also got The Chop Shop Burger. They’ll have burgers and loaded tots. We’ve got a coffee vendor this year, Copper Canyon Coffee Roasters, and we also have some BBQ from Pappy Mac’s.”

Need a break from shopping? There’s plenty of entertainment

Cider Days once again features three stages of live entertainment, with stages at the east and west end of the footprint as well as smack dab in the middle. Performances start at 10:30 a.m. both days, with the final acts going on between 4 and 4:30 p.m.

There will be plenty of live music from local favorites, including The Bridgetones, Shaun Munday, Uke 66 and Vic Vaughan & Souled Out. The Republic Community Band and Springfield Metro Chorus are also on the schedule.

Dance groups like Backwoods Bhangra, Dynamics Dance, Pat’s Clogging Studios and Studio Vie will perform, and Villian Era by Queen City Acro will present acrobatics. Springfield Little Theatre’s Youth Performance Troupe, Springfield Ballet and Dynamic Edge Martial Arts will also provide entertainment.

A singer performs on stage at Cider Days on Historic Walnut Street
The Princesses of the 417 are one of many groups that will be performing at Cider Days on Historic Walnut Street, Sept. 16-17. The festival has three stages featuring music, dance and more. (Photo submitted by Downtown Springfield Association)

Don’t forget the apple cider — and the apple cider donuts

The festival will, of course, have its signature apple cider available — hot or cold — at two locations, one on the east side of the festival footprint and the other on the west side.

“And Gardener’s Orchard and Bakery is bringing their apple cider donuts,” Magnus said.

A man stands behind a table holding containers of apple cider donuts
You can get apple cider at Cider Days, of course, and Gardener’s Orchard and Bakery will be selling apple cider donuts. (Photo submitted by Downtown Springfield Association)

Want to go?

What: 25th Cider Days on Historic Walnut Street

When: Sept. 16-17, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. both days

Where: On Historic Walnut Street, from John Q. Hammons Parkway to National Avenue

Tickets: Admission is $5, with children ages 5 and under free; tickets can be purchased in advance online or at the gate

For more information: Visit the official Cider Days website or find them on Facebook

Jeff Kessinger

Jeff Kessinger is the Reader Engagement Editor for the Springfield Daily Citizen, and the voice of its daily newsletter SGF A.M. He covered sports in southwest Missouri for the better part of 20 years, from young athletes to the pros. The Springfield native and Missouri State University alumnus is thrilled to be doing journalism in the Queen City, helping connect the community with important information. He and wife Jamie daily try to keep a tent on the circus that is a blended family of five kids and three cats. More by Jeff Kessinger