Brave souls shrieked from the tops of carnival thrill rides, couples danced to country and blues rock bands and families cozied up to King Walnut at Walnut Festival in Walnut Creek.

The festival, celebrating its 85th year, returned to Heather Farm Park over the weekend with the theme of “Kindness Is Free, Sprinkle It Everywhere.”

The Walnut Festival Association, a nonprofit corporation organizing the annual harvest festival, has held the event at different venues including the center of town and at Civic Park, before finally moving to Heather Farm Park in 1976. The festival has since been held every September starting on the third Thursday after the first Monday.

The four-day festival, which attracts thousands of visitors annually from across the Bay Area, was celebrated this year between Sept. 23-26, with live music, a carnival and a showcase of artists, designers, jewelry makers, food, etc.

Flor Angeles, a resident of Rodeo, Calif., drove to Heather Farm Park with her family to attend the festival on Saturday. “It’s our first time coming to the Walnut Festival,” Angeles said. “I saw it on Facebook. They were announcing it, so we just came.”

Among the visitors from different parts of the Bay Area were those who grew up in Walnut Creek and eventually moved to other places.

Eric Achelis, who currently lives in Santa Cruz, reminisced about attending the festival while growing up in Walnut Creek and having fond memories of it.

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“The last time I was here was about 20 years ago. [The place] feels smaller to me, but I am also a lot bigger,” Achelis said. “We just did the Santa Cruz County Fair a week or two ago, and that was fun, too. This festival is notably smaller and more intimate, and I enjoy it.”

Anna Krajcin, another Walnut Creek native, visited the festival from Concord with her husband and her twin daughters.

“Twenty years ago, I was at the beer tent, listening to music,” Krajcin shared with a laugh. “This is our first time with kids, and it’s definitely a different experience. It’s awesome to see it through their eyes.”

The cost of admission to the festival was $11 per person, except children under the age of 5, seniors 65 years or older and active military got in free. Those who donated a can of food received a discount of $1.

The Walnut Festival Association states that its purpose is to raise money from such annual family events and donate money back into the community to support recreational, charitable and educational programs and facilities.