Pumpkin Festival opens
MILTON — The West Virginia Pumpkin Festival has become one of those things on the calendar that people circle every year. It has truly become a staple for Milton and the region, having started in 1985 in the baseball fields.
It’s now on some 90 acres and draws tens of thousands of visitors to the Pumpkin Park each year. Among those is Samantha Thompson, who started coming four years ago at the urging of friends.
She lived in Logan County at the time, but she said the 90-minute drive was always worth it.
“You definitely need to come down,” said Thompson, who moved to Milton last year. “It’s definitely worth the trip to spend your day.”
Others who came out on opening night Thursday called the Pumpkin Festival the kickoff to the fall season, describing the atmosphere as well worth the $7 admission (although children 5 and younger are free).
Speaking of kids, Thursday and again on Friday, the Pumpkin Festival welcomes about 3,000 students from local and regional schools. They’re able to tour through the re-enactment camps, watch 4-H students husk and cook corn on the grill and get their own pumpkin to decorate.
That’s one of the things Kay Kingry looks forward to each year. She is the founder of Dunbar-based Dark Hollow Foods and has set up a booth at the festival for the past 14 years. She said she enjoys seeing the smiles on children’s faces during the day, then talking to visitors in the evenings and on weekends.
“It’s a different crowd each day,” Kingry said. “A good variety of people, and they are so pleasant.”
But there is a lot going on behind the scenes to make sure the gates were ready to open Thursday, said David Poore, the vice president of the Pumpkin Festival Board of Directors. This summer, a new general store was built, complimenting the entertainment building that was built a few years ago.
“It takes a lot of work to keep these grounds up,” Poore said. “But to see them out there decorating pumpkins … it’s all based on family. That’s what this festival is.”
The Pumpkin Festival continues through Sunday, Oct. 6, and includes the scholarship money-raising giant pumpkin auction at 4 p.m. Sunday and a plethora of pumpkin-tasting items to try throughout the weekend.
Hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
A full schedule of all the entertainment is online at www.wvpumpkinpark.com.