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MILTON — Even amid an ongoing pandemic, there is a desire to keep traditions alive. Outdoor events seem to be thriving again, including the return of the annual West Virginia Pumpkin Festival.

The festival gets underway at Pumpkin Park in Milton beginning Thursday, Oct. 7, and lasts until Sunday, Oct. 10.

The gates of the 2021 West Virginia Pumpkin Festival open at 9 a.m. Thursday with giant pumpkins on display and strolling entertainment by Mr. Puppet.

Thursday and Friday are designated as the “School Days” portion of the festival, with student tickets $3 and teachers, aides and bus drivers getting in for free.

Smokey Bear of the Smokey Bear Wildfire Prevention campaign will make appearances throughout the event.

On the historical side of the entertainment and educational ledger, a pre-1840 Living History Encampment will be set up at the Pumpkin Festival grounds this weekend.

Along with the historical encampment, the festival will feature glassblowers, arts and crafts vendors, a homemade quilt exhibit, apple butter making, a chain-saw carver, a grist mill and the popular live Birds of Prey presentation by the Three Rivers Avian Center. Another festival attendee favorite is the roasted corn that will be ready for eating, offered up by the Cabell Midland High School Future Farmers of America students.

The live music will begin at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Pumpkin Festival with the blues music of the band Creek Don’t Rise. Later in the evening, the acoustic sounds of Wood and Wine take the stage at 7:30 p.m.

On Friday, live music continues with the soft rock sounds of Mothman at 5 p.m. and the Jake Eddy Bluegrass Trio at 7 p.m.

The jams crank up early Saturday with an acoustic performance by Patrick Stanley at 11 a.m., followed by another acoustic show by Tim Browning at 1 p.m. The rock band Massing heats up the stage at Pumpkin Park at 3 p.m., and the unique grooves of Corduroy Brown will fill the festival stage at 5 p.m., all leading to a headlining show by Flat Tracker at 7 p.m.

The 2021 West Virginia Pumpkin Festival will also feature helicopter rides, weather permitting. The helicopters are able to carry three guest riders, with a two-rider minimum. The weight limit per passenger is 275 pounds, with a total being 600 pounds. Children older than 2 can ride in the helicopter if accompanied by an adult.

More general information can be found at wvpumpkinpark.com.

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