Pumpkin Fest to bring family fun to Pascoag, with contests, demos & treats this Saturday

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BURRILLVILLE – A festive fall event that typically brings hundreds of young costumed visitors and their families to Pascoag will take place this Saturday, following a one week weather delay.

The Downtown Pascoag & Neighborhood Association’s annual Pumpkin Fest will take place on Saturday, Nov. 6 from 5 to 8 p.m. by the village Bridgeway.

Originally scheduled for October 30, the event includes vendors, activities, a pumpkin decorating contest. and more. It was cancelled in 2020 over pandemic concerns, and organizers delayed the festival due to high winds predicted for last weekend.

New in 2021, this year’s festival will feature vendor demos, including a wood carving demonstration by a chainsaw- welding artist, and a karate routine by students with Harrisville studio Village Martial Arts. A chorus made up of students from Burrillville High School and Middle School is also tentatively scheduled to perform.

Organizer Courtney Gath said around 20 vendors will take part in the event this year, and most typically attend in costume, handing out treats to young visitors.

“We encourage them to,” Gath said.

The popular pumpkin decorating contest will also take place this year, with gourds that have been painted, carved and more competing for the title of funniest or scariest.

“The more creative the better,” said Gath. “We do have a category for most original.”

The contest is free to enter, with pumpkin decorators of all ages from across the region are invited to show up with their creations for display. Judging will take place starting at 6:30 p.m., with the top winners from each category to take home trophies and awards, including a contest restricted to kids age 6 and under, a competition for participating businesses, and the highest-rated pumpkin to win, “Best in Show.”

Those not in attendance when the winners are announced at 7 p.m. will be notified if their pumpkin was chosen by phone.

Local businesses also take traditionally take part, welcoming visitors with activities geared toward elementary and middle school-aged kids, such as a donut decorating offered at the nearby Dunkin Donuts. Food trucks are also expected to be on site, and while Gath was still awaiting final confirmation, she said she’s hopeful both Dinolicious & OATmiel Café will be serving the crowds.

Put on by the volunteer six-member DPNA, Gath said the group did not have enough staff this year to run a haunted trail or troll bridge, another feature of the festival in past years. The festival was originally started by a group of students, but taken over by volunteers from DPNA in 2007.

“Ultimately, we would love to have a family or business to sponsor the trail,” said Gath. “We would love to have a business sponsor it, and have it back next year.”

It’s a return to action for the committee, which aims to bring life and community to the village, after a year that saw all major events cancelled, including their annual Victorian Holiday. The group did hold a Mother’s Day Stroll in May, but Pumpkin Fest will be the first opportunity to welcome back the larger crowds.

If the weather is nice, that crowd, Gath said, could include up to 1,000 visitors.

The event is held rain or shine, and was only cancelled over concerns of the potential affect of damaging winds on tents set up by vendors.

“Even if it’s a little rain, we’re good with that,” Gath said. “We’ve had it in the snow before.”

More typically, Gath said, Pumpkin Fest brings out anywhere between 600 and 800 people.

That’s a lot for the relatively small organization, and Gath noted that DPNA is always looking for new volunteers. Those who would like to learn more can contact the group via their Facebook page.

Gath said she’s hopeful everyone will come out to enjoy the community event.

“It’s just great fun to have with your kids,” Gath said, adding, “I’m sure many families have made pumpkins together. Bring them down and put them out for display.”

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