116TH Annual Tontitown Grape Festival Begins

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TONTITOWN (KFSM) - The 116th annual Tontitown Grape Festival is under way in Tontitown.

The city of Tontitown is normally known as a small town. But, organizers of the grape festival expect the streets to be packed the rest of this week, as the festival celebrates the long tradition.

"It's become an annual tradition for us,” said Amanda Coussoule, an attendee. “My kids look forward to it every year.”

The church-ran festival is one of Tontitown’s longest running events, currently in its 116th year.

"It's really family oriented. It's one of the few places that people feel safe to bring their kids out and let them walk around by themselves," said Ryan Pianalto, a Tontitown Grape Festival chairman.

Kids are heavily encouraged to participate in the grape stomping tradition at each festival.

"We let the kids come up and literally get in a vat full of grapes, and stomp," Pianalto said. “It's really not that gross. It's little sticky feeling. It's a little interesting.”

Many also come for the famous homemade spaghetti.

"The sauce is the real kicker,” Pianalto said.

Those in attendance say it’s a great time for family.

"My husband and I love how easy it is for a night out,” Coussoule said.

Some of the kids at the festival said attending the event was their gift for performing well.

"We have been doing good in school, and that's our reward before we go back to school," Anthony Perrone said. "We've been having a good time.”

Tontitown has a population of roughly 2,500 people.

Festival officials tell 5NEWS they expect to have more than 30,000 people at the event this week.

Alongside plenty of grape foods, like grape ice cream, festival workers say they expect to make more than 500 gallons of spaghetti sauce this week.