Celebrate Halloween at Pumpkin Festival

TOWNSHEND — On Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the 33rd annual Townshend Pumpkin Festival will be held on the Townshend Common, giving elementary school kids the chance to try on their Halloween costumes and to decorate pumpkins.

Hundreds of school kids from the surrounding towns in the West River Valley will dress up in their Halloween costumes and show them off to all the parents, local onlookers and tourists coming to see southern Vermont's beautiful foliage. A major craft fair is also happening with more than 60 vendors set up around the common, offering crafts such as wooden products, folk art and more. There also will be many different kinds of foods.

The Townshend Elementary School's sixth-grade class specializes in a huge variety of different flavored soups, which are truly scrumptious. The soups are made by local cooks and are offered to help support the sixth grade in its fundraising efforts for the class trip. In addition to the food, the class is also raising funds with a raffle.

At 12:30 p.m., a pumpkin decorating contest will be held. Each contestant receives a free pumpkin to be decorated with marker, crayons, ribbons, and many types of artistic paraphernalia that the kids have brought with them. Being creative is important and parents may guide their children, but this is the youngster's work and should be done by the child. Ribbons will be awarded by the judges.

At 2 p.m., the Halloween costume contest is preceded by the costume parade, during which each elementary student parades around the common in his or her Halloween finest to show off. Judges look over the various outfits and award ribbons for the best costumes. The contestants are grouped by grades, so a kindergartener competes with kids in his or her own age category.

A major attraction is the free pony rides from noon to 3 p.m. on the front lawn of the church on the common. The ponies will be in a roped-off ring where the ponies walk around guided by adults. The pony rides are free, but there will be a box for donations to help offset the cost The pony rides are one of the most popular attractions at the pumpkin festival.

Another contest that draws a lot of attention is the best pumpkin pie contest. It is divided into two categories: adult pie bakers and bakers under 18 years of age. The pumpkin pies are judged on flavor, crust and overall appearance. Pumpkin pies for the competition should be delivered to the judges by 1:30 p.m.

The Pumpkin Festival is sponsored by the Townshend Business Association, which is made up of local business owners. TBA members make 120 pumpkin pies to be sold during the festival to help pay for the free pony rides and other expenses of the festival.

Festival goers can buy a whole pie or just a slice, with or without whipped cream topping. Each year the pumpkin pies usually sell out. So if you want a pie, come early.

Another competition is the scarecrow decorating contest. Wooden stakes with crossarms are set up around the fountain on the common. These are the beginnings of a scarecrow. On these wooden stakes, scarecrows are created by adding clothing such as pants, overalls, flannel shirts, and other clothing. Corn stalks and hay are used to stuff the body of the scarecrow. Fabric faces and hands add to the figure along with most anything that will create the finished scarecrow. Ribbon prizes are awarded and the work can be done by individuals, family or a group.

Another attraction at the festival is music played by local musicians who perform on the gazebo. Tim Robinson will be performing at 11 a.m. and again after noon. Candy Granger Clog Dancers will perform at noon.

Parking and admission are free, and the festival will be held rain or shine.

There is still room for vendors. For more information, contact Kevin Burke at 802-380-1875 or visit townshendvermont.org.


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