October 2, 2009
14th annual Pumpkinfest kicks off Saturday
Weekend event features hay and pony rides, more than 100 crafters and array of beers for tasting
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Mike Thayer, of Preble Tent and Catering, puts up a 40-by-100 foot tent Thursday morning in Courthouse Park in preparation for the 14th annual Pumpkinfest this weekend.
The Crown City becomes Pumpkin City this weekend.
The 14th annual Great Cortland Pumpkinfest offers a celebration of the harvest season on Saturday and Sunday at Courthouse Park in Cortland.
The festival has a host of activities for children and adults alike. Organizers are hoping for a strong turnout from local residents and tourists.
“Attendance is really weather dependent,” said Jim Dempsey, director of the Cortland County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “In nice weather we could see 10,000 people.”
When the event was first held in 1996, organizers hoped to create an event for Cortland residents to celebrate the autumn harvest season, of which the pumpkin is a prominent local symbol. As the festival has grown over the years, it has drawn visitors from throughout the county and beyond.
“We’re starting to see more out-of-towners attending the fest as part of their fall calendar,” Dempsey said. “It’s very encouraging. We’re getting a reputation as a destination event. It’s good for the community.”
Many activities are on the schedule, including inflatable bounce houses and games for children, as well as a puppet show, hay rides and pony rides. More than 100 crafters will offer their handcrafted products for sale and food vendors will be open for business.
An array of beers from micro-brewers will be available for tasting.
Live music is also on the agenda with the Mohawk Valley Frasers Pipe Band, the Ithaca Dixieland Band and the Ageless Jazz Band performing on Saturday, while the Stoutmen and Old Timers Band take the stage on Sunday.
Contests will be held for pumpkin decorating, pumpkin baked goods and the heaviest pumpkin — last year’s winner tipped the scales at more than 1,000 pounds.
The Pumpkinfest is organized by a 15-member year-round committee and is staffed by more than 150 volunteers, including senior citizens, SUNY Cortland sororities and fraternities, and high school students.
“It’s a terrific cross-section,” Dempsey said. “There’s something for everyone.”
For more information and a complete schedule of events, go online to: www.cortlandpumpkinfest.org.
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