Pumpkin Fest has something for everyone

October 1, 2018

WESTVILLE – The town of Westville was abuzz with activity over the weekend during the 26th annual Pumpkin Festival.

Saturday started off with a parade that traveled down Main Street to U.S. 421 and then south to Prairie Meadow Park, the festival site.

Tractors, classic cars, floats, politicians, cheerleaders and the Westville High School band were among the participants in the parade.

Westville’s varsity pom-pom squad got the biggest cheers from the crowd as they performed Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” re-creating the music video’s zombie dance.

At the conclusion of the parade, the high school band performed several numbers, including Elvis Presley’s “Jail House Rock.”

Following the parade, garden tractors of all sizes competed in a tractor pull at the west end of Prairie Meadow Park.

Laura Weaver, a contestant from Sheridan, Indiana, competed in the 16 HP class with her Cub Cadet tractor. She took second place, after a coin toss was used to determine the winner. Weaver said she travels all over the country to compete, including pulls in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and Florida.

Northern Indiana Pullers president James Nifong, of Walkerton, said the events include participants of all ages, with a rider as young as 6 competing. A weight transfer sled is used, which makes pulling harder as the tractor travels farther, with measurements going down to a hundredth of an inch.

While there wasn’t a trophy, winners were awarded cash prizes. Nifong said members pay a small fee for club dues, and a fee for entering each competition. There are generally 12 to 15 events a year, including an indoor event during winter. The club started in 1986.

While tractor enthusiasts watched the pull, a classic car show on the other end of the park attracted auto aficionados.

Gary Buckingham, owner of a 1971 Chevelle, sat in a chair alongside his car.

“I’ve been coming here since the mid 1980s, this really is a great festival,” Buckingham said.

The car show was not as big as in past years, he said, as there used to be several more rows of cars. This year there was one row of 13 cars, and a separate row of three classic trucks.

The central area of the festival featured many vendor booths, with places to eat, shop, speak with politicians/organizations and even get your fortune told. A wide variety of crafts and wares were available, from necklaces, jewelry, clothing and toys, to collectibles, candles and even decorative metal fire rings and signs.

Penny Weaver came from Merrillville to set up her Penny’s Forgotten Treasures booth. She specializes in paintings, signage and crafts.

“I always have good success here with my fall and Christmas items,” she said. “I like that Westville has a different clientele. This is my second year. Last year I did so well I had to come back.”

Her actual store, Forgotten Treasures in Merrillville, has been in business for 10 years.

Other attractions included fingo, fish and pork chop dinners, a teen dance, pie eating contest, a 5K race and “Pumpkinpalooza,” which featured several bands.

“I’ve been coming here since I was young, when my grandma used to bring me,” said Tiffany Kampersal, of DeMotte. “It’s the vendors that bring me here, it’s a great place for families and I would love to see it grow.”

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