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Make plans to attend Spring Hope National Pumpkin Festival

Posted on September 27, 2021

WAW
Plan on trying all kinds of food at this year's Spring Hope National Pumpkin Festival.

Ken Ripley | For Wide Awake

Plan on trying all kinds of food at this year's Spring Hope National Pumpkin Festival.

Back in 1971, local farmers and businessmen Ralph Bass and Elmo Tant proposed that Spring Hope become home to a festival celebrating the annual pumpkin harvest. And in 1972, the Spring Hope Pumpkin Festival began its long history, eventually receiving a congressional charter making it a national festival. 

The two-day festival, which was postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be held on Friday, Oct. 1, and Saturday, Oct. 2, this year in downtown Spring Hope.

“The Spring Hope National Pumpkin Festival is the longest continuous running annual festival in Nash County,” said Ethan Vester, president of the Spring Hope Area Chamber of Commerce. “We kick things off this year on Friday with a pumpkin recipe contest. The food vendors open for business at noon, kids’ bouncy houses and train begin at 5 p.m., followed by music and a street dance at 7 p.m.”

One of the highlights of the festival is the giant pumpkin and watermelon weigh-off, with growers bringing their produce in around 7 a.m. festival Saturday to Spring Hope Baptist Church, registering at 8 a.m. The actual weighing beginning at 9 a.m. In addition to pumpkins and watermelons, sweet potatoes, gourds and the occasional tomato are also accepted in the contest.

“The festival’s weigh-off is sanctioned by the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth, meaning that the contest follows the Commonweath’s rules so that winners can boast global wins,” Vester said. 

“Last year we still had a GPC-sanctioned weigh-off of produce even though we did not hold the actual festival.”

Friday’s activities continue into Saturday at 9 a.m. with the addition of craft vendors, more music, wellness checks provided by community health care organizations, the introduction of the Miss Pumpkin Queen and Little Miss Pumpkin, and the ever-popular festival parade beginning at 1 p.m.

“We average from 8,000 to 10,000 people attending the parade, which features marching bands, local businesses, the Shrine Club, pumpkin queens and antique cars and tractors,” Vester said. “And our grand marshal is Demo Tant, the brother of Elmo Tant, one of the festival’s founders.”

“Mr. Tant, who lives in Momeyer, will have turned 100 years old on Sept. 21,” Vester said. “In the spirit of the pandemic birthday parades where people drove by individuals’ homes celebrating birthdays, we are reversing that parade. Being the grand marshal, he will get to ride around so that everyone will see him.”

Vester said that visitors might notice that the festival is a little more spread out this year, with vendors spaced farther apart as part of the festival’s COVID-19 protocol. There will also be hand sanitizer at each vendor’s booth and plenty of hand-washing stations. 

“The Spring Hope National Pumpkin Festival is your traditional ‘Hallmark’ Americana festival, and we want everyone to celebrate the harvest season with us,” Vester said. “It’s neat to ride around town and see all the friends and families getting together. I know of at least six family reunions going on during the festival weekend.”

For more information about the pumpkin festival, call the Spring Hope Area Chamber of Commerce at 252-478 -1919 or visit https://www.visitspringhope.com/national-pumpkin-festival.

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