AFTON — Sixth street has a secret.
Just a few miles up the road from Beloit lies a town straight from the pages of a storybook. Afton is in fact not even a town or village. Still, its lacking size has not kept it from being a destination.
Last weekend Afton held its annual Harvest Festival, and despite the frigid weather and lower attendance, good times were still to be had.
“In the past there have been more people here,” Ralph Tuttle, co-owner of Bass Creek Espresso, said. “But it’s still a good time with good people.”
The field next to Bass Creek Espresso has been crowded with local vendors in the past; however, this year Wendy Karr, another owner, said the weather definitely played a part.
“I had about six vendors not show up and I think that was because of the weather,” Karr said.
A few blocks down the road, Diane Liptow hosted some events of her own. An Elvis impersonator was hired, raffles were going on, and Liptow’s annual car show brought bunches of vehicles.
“We’ve done this in the snow and the rain before so this isn’t so bad,” Liptow said.
Liptow uses the her car show as well as a steak breakfast at her pub to raise money for the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots, a program that works to provide unwrapped presents for children during the holiday season.
“It’s just such a good cause and I’m so happy to be able to do something for them,” Liptow said.
On Monday Liptow said that the amount of money raised for Toys for Tots was over $4,000.
“It’s not as much as last year,” Liptow said. “But it’s still more than I thought we were going to have.”
The community-wide event stretches along the half-mile of County Highway D and was created four years ago by Karr, Liptow and Skip Hoffman.
“Diane had had a car show and I had the vendors over here, but I don’t think either of us knew what the other one was doing,” Karr said.
Karr and Liptow own establishments on opposite ends of the stretch of Afton Road (County Highway D), helping to make Afton Harvest Fest span the entirety of the community.
A tractor provided passage between the two ends of the town with stops in between for more vendors and a bounce house.
“I think people come from pretty far for this,” Colin Sexton, a vendor selling fine art photography, said. “It’s a fun way to spend a fall weekend.”
The festival has evolved over the years and Karr thinks both the event and Afton itself has plenty more to offer.
“There’s a lot I want to do,” Karr said. “Everything else we’ve done has been working so why not keep going?”
Among Karr’s plans are a bicycle rental shop near her restaurant and turning the field which now houses the vendors for the festival into a picturesque garden.
A bridge over a tributary of the Rock River passes between wilderness that then opens into what Karr hopes will be a vast garden.
“You come over that bridge and you see it, you’re here,” Tuttle said. “Don’t blink though, or you might miss it.”