The history of the fall celebration of Autumnfest dates back to 1977. Despite the fact that the first festival featured some technical mishaps, it has succeeded in growing into a renowned fall celebration on Rhode Island for 28 years. Admission to the fall celebration is free. However some attractions do cost money, including the food court and the Midway, as well as the beverage stands.
The fall celebration of Autumnfest 2005 has surpassed all the previous celebrations of the festival. It opened at the Band Stand of the World War II Veteran's Memorial State Park on October 8. The three-day celebration featured continuous entertainment in the heart of the 13-acre park. A gigantic fireworks display took place on Sunday, while on Monday morning the spectators had the possibility to observe a 10 division parade, which took at least two hours to pass from the Diamond Hill Road to the main entrance of the park on Social Street. The massive parade was comprised of floats, clowns, musicians and nearly 5,000 participants. The Grand Marshal and Woonsocket resident Raymond Bacon were the leading element of the parade.
Broadcast commentators of the parade included CEO of the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce John Gregory, and TV celebrity Linda Trudeau. New at Autumnfest 2005 was the airborne unit, which advertised the names of the sponsors, while flying over Autumnfest grounds. The entertainment ranged from pop and country to jazz and swing.
The sucess of this fall festival is associated with the volunteer committee and its co-chairs Suzanne Vadenais and Roger Bouchard, who bear responsibility for the planning and running of the main fall celebration.
Autumnfest is also prominent for its beer garden, where beer and wine are served to the visitors of the festival. The Autumnfest Talent Show has been an important part of the fall celebration since 1996. Contestants compete in amateur, junior and professional categories, with the five best in each category having the opportunity to perform on the Autumnfest Stage during the festival. This year Autumnfest was shown on Rode Island Interconnect Television - Channel 15.
The Kids Area, designed for the smallest visitors, featured pony and camel rides, a zoo, child identification program, a moonwalk, and exhibits by local musicians, dancers, karate studios and clowns. The beach area of the park is also rich in events, including tractor pull, a kids triathlon, cake demonstrations, and firemen's demonstrations.
"Iron Kid Challenge" also belongs to the latest innovations for children. It takes place on Saturday at noon. The triathlon is designed for kids only and includes a 250 crab-foot race, ½ mile bike race and ½ mile road race. Rides operate during all three days of the festival, but feature a special Autumnfest offer on Friday night. Visitors are able to pay $20 and enjoy riding from 5 till 10 p.m.
Among the bands and groups performing on the fall celebration are "The Tokens", "Big Nazo Fun Band", "Reminisants", "Clave Logic", "Northeast Groove" and the professional vocalist Jean McKenna O'Donnell.
Autumnfest 2005 also served as the debut for the Cumberland-Lincoln Community Chorus.