Before tractors were common, farmers typically banded together to rent one and bring in the harvest together. Carroll County’s Pumpkin Festival is pitching in with the Historic Hillsville Chili Shootout and moving to Main Street on October 7 as the “Harvest Festival.”
According to Festival Organizer/Tourism Relations Manager for Carroll County Amanda Parris, the event will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in conjunction with the Shootout as organizers look for the merger to lead to a seamless, day long event.
“The biggest thing is we hope this collaboration will benefit both the Town and the County by expanding the footprint into Hillsville, ” Paris said. “It’s exciting. This year is a trial year as we listen to individuals, businesses, the Historical Society and the Hale-Wilkinson-Carter Home group’s suggestions. Hopefully this is something we can grow into and the whole area can embrace.”
She said many of the Festival’s participants will be located on Main Street with an arts and crafts village set up in the Carter Home. The artisan showcase will include artists ranging from woodworkers, bee keepers, jewelers, painters, a seamstress, potters and more. Tentative plans also call for dramatic historic skits from local Playwright Frank Levering’s Courthouse Tragedy plays. The Carroll County Historical Museum will also be open, featuring information about the Sidna Allen Home restoration.
Festival activities will include Best Dressed, Best Etched, Best Carved, and Largest Pumpkin Contests. Entries in these events must arrive in exhibit hall area (Carroll County Historic Courthouse) from 7:30 a.m.- 9 a.m. on October 7.
Best Decorated Entries will be accepted throughout the day until 3 p.m. and may be completed on-site. Winners will be announced at 3:30 p.m., at which time pumpkins can be picked up or left on display along the historic court house wall through the Halloween Season.
A Coloring Contest is also slated. Organizers encourage participants to go all out, making extrodinary orange orbs which will have a place in the “Pumpkin Patch” located on the Courthouse front lawn. Pens, ink, sequins, paints, crayons, beads, feathers, glitter, pom-poms, glue, tape, staples – or whatever else artists scare up may be used to decorate the pumpkins. “Joy the Clown” will also be featured.
There will also be Future Farmers of America (FFA) exhibits, and FFA barn yard/petting zoo, hay rides, a heritage equipment demonstration, courtroom tours and literature. The Festival will feature seasonal treats, cotton candy, snow cones, Mayberry BBQ and non-profit food vendors such as Mount Bethel Church (famous for their pork skins). The Hillsville Farmer’s Market will also be open for business, offering fresh local organic produce and baked goods.
Last year’s homage to “Punkin Chunkin,” a pumpkin cannon, will return and there will also be pumpkin sling shots, a pedal tractor maze, a bounce house and face painting. Local bands set to perform include “Blue 58,” “Blended Grass” and Adam McPeak & Mountain Thunder. Parris praised local volunteers (such as the Friends of Hillsville) who make the events possible. She said the Festival greatly benefits from the Virginia Farm Bureau Women’s group.
“Volunteers are a special breed and they are indispensable,” Parris said. “It is so important to give back to the community and it’s a major thing to do to help move the (Harvest) Festival forward. Eventually we hope the Harvest Festival will capture and embrace all agriculture here. We want it to be known we are strong in arts, crafts, music and agriculture. Carroll is the number one pumpkin-producing county in the state.”
Future plans include expanding to include being seasonally correct with tree farming and other local agriculture represented. People may obtain more information and obtain entry forms online at www.pumpkinfestivalva.com or by calling the Carroll County Office of Tourism at 276-730-3100 or firstname.lastname@example.org. All registration forms may be filled out online. Participants may also fill out, print, and mail back forms to Amanda Parris, 239 Farmers Market Drive, Hillsville, VA., 24343.
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.