Clear blue skies and plenty of sunshine greeted thousands of visitors on the first of three weekends of the 2010 Fall Foliage Festival in Jim Thorpe this past weekend.

On top of being a fun time out for those who visited the festival, after the rainy weather throughout the east coast last week, many people were all too ready get out and enjoy themselves.

The event, sponsored by the Jim Thorpe Chamber of Commerce, fit the bill in many ways.

The downtown, Broadway, and Race street areas were brimming with food, arts, crafts and free music events at four different venues, all within easy walking distance of each other.

In addition to vendors in Josiah White Park and at the Mauch Chunk Opera House, shops and restaurants throughout the downtown area and Race Street offered visitors much to see and do.

Bob Gaudreau, vice president of the Jim Thorpe Chamber of Commerce and co-owner of Naturally Yours on Broadway, said the event had "a wonderful turnout and they were fortunate to get a nice break in the weather with people coming out in droves."

Plus, he noted that, "The steam engine-powered excursion train, which came into town from Duryea, had about 800 passengers on board."

Gaudreau also said that one of the things that was new this year was the addition of the Jim Thorpe Farmers' Market at both the Josiah White Park and Mauch Chunk Opera House venues.

At the opera house, Dan Hugos, festival coordinator and owner of Dakota Ridge Gallery, said the festival started a week earlier this year to hopefully take advantage of better weather.

He said Saturday's turnout was "outstanding" and all involved were pleased noting that "there's a lot going on in town."

Hugos went on to say that the chamber tries to keep improving things every year and one of those improvements is that they have some new bands from the Lehigh Valley.

He noted that Mari Gruber, owner of the Bear Mountain Butterfly Sanctuary on Route 903, has done a great job organizing vendors and Michael Guy, owner of Rainbow's End, did a fantastic job of organizing the festival's basic necessities, such as finances, crowd control, portable restrooms, garbage pickup, etc.

Also at the opera house, one of the food vendors, Brian Platel, the owner of the soon to be opened Bear Appetit Cafe at 29 Broadway, said that he was excited about the opportunity to participate in this year's Fall Foliage Festival and get to meet with both townspeople and visitors.

Guy said that the festival takes a tremendous amount of effort to organize and thanked those who were involved in putting it together and making the first weekend very successful.

"We are happy to see the people at the festival enjoying themselves," Guy added. "We want them to have a good time, enjoy Jim Thorpe, and come back to visit again."

In addition to the hundreds who arrived by excursion train, many hundreds enjoyed the train rides conducted by the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway.

The volume of visitors was so great, that even with a second horse and carriage ride operating downtown, their trips up Broadway and down Race Street went out back to back both days.

There are two more weekends to enjoy Jim Thorpe and all that the 2010 Fall Foliage Festival has to offer.

The festival continues Oct. 9-10 and Oct. 16-17.

There will be more excursion trains visiting the festival on Oct. 9, 16, and 17 with the trains on the 9th and 17th powered by Reading and Northern Railroad's Steam Locomotive No. 425.

For more information visit the Jim Thorpe Chamber of Commerce's website at www.jimthorpe.org [3].