Fun for all on first day of 2018 Pumpkin Festival
MILTON — From pumpkin pie fudge and homemade apple butter all the way to chainsaw carving and comedy shows, the 33rd annual West Virginia Pumpkin Festival is off to a hot start this year.
The Pumpkin Festival kicked off with a “School Days” celebration Thursday as hundreds of students from schools from all across the area flooded Milton’s Pumpkin Park throughout the morning and afternoon. The students were entertained with comedy acts, puppet shows and various other activities throughout the day. The Pumpkin Festival will continue “School Days” Friday.
All weekend long the festival features vendors from across the state and region with something for just about everyone.
A quick sweep of the grounds will uncover handmade and homemade products, as well as clothing,
jewelry and a seemingly endless amount of food vendors that offer plenty of variety for visitors’ taste buds.
Dark Hollow Foods, based in Dunbar, West Virginia, branches off from pumpkin flavoring, offering meatball sauce, dry rub seasoning and drink mixes. Owner Kay Kingry has her booth set up at the Pumpkin Festival for the 19th consecutive year. It’s one of just three big events she comes out for each year.
“It’s a weird, fun and friendly festival. It’s easily my favorite one because of the people you get to interact with,” Kingry said. “The year I started the company was my first here. I said I’d do it for 20 years, but who knows? I may just keep going.”
Kingry has her product in 85 stores in West Virginia, Virginia and Florida, where the majority of her profit is garnered now that she has reduced her festival appearances from what once was twice per month.
A wide variety of demonstrations can also be found as area master craftsmen share their expertise in areas such as blacksmithing, pottery making, quilting and woodworking. One of the more eye-popping demonstrations is that of chainsaw carving. Darren, who declined to give his last name, is now at his third Pumpkin Festival and will spend the weekend carving wooden sculptures with his arsenal of four chainsaws.
“I do it to carry on the tradition of my dad, who carved here for nine years before he died,” he said. “I have done it full time for a few years now, but this is the only festival I come out for because my dad did the same thing.”
Darren said each carving can take from six to eight hours to complete. He can be found carving new pieces throughout the weekend at the festival.
Visitors can also find West Virginia’s heaviest pumpkin while at the festival this weekend. Robert Cyrus, of Fort Gay, West Virginia, has his record-setting gourd, weighing in at 1,576 pounds, on display at this year’s festival. He broke his own state record set last year, when his winning pumpkin weighed 1,421 pounds. Cyrus has grown the winning pumpkin three of the past four years.
The Pumpkin Festival runs through the weekend. The grounds are open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5-7, at West Virginia’s Pumpkin Park, off James River Turnpike in Milton.
Admission is $8 on Friday and $10 on Saturday and Sunday. Children 5 and younger get in free. Parking is free and there’s a group rate.
Follow reporter Luke Creasy on Facebook and Twitter @HDcreasy.