Pumpkin Festival welcomes fall to West Virginia

Breanna Francis, Reporter

The Pumpkin Festival took over Milton, West Virginia over the weekend and celebrated the fall season with food vendors, games and a largest pumpkin competition.

Mark Cooper, the president of Pumpkin Festival, said he thinks Pumpkin Festival is a welcoming of autumn in its multitude of fall festivities and crops, while allowing those in attendance to expose themselves to new vendors, foods and interesting people.

“It started out as a way to sell fall crops, but now we have become a chance for people from all over the state to come and celebrate this beautiful part of the year together, from crazy foods like pumpkin ice cream, to watching period time reenactors educate our guests on history,” Cooper said.

Cooper said the festival wasn’t only a great way for friends and family to go out and have a good time, but that the organization was giving back to the community in multiple ways all weekend.

“People love bringing their dogs, but we can’t allow them into the park, so we have Little Victories No Kill Animal Shelter hosting a ‘Doggie Daycare,’ where they give the dogs treats, walk them and let them have a good time as well. So, they get their word out, and we give them a donation as well,” Cooper said. “All of the money made in our gift shop also goes straight into a fund that is used to create three scholarships for students in-state seeking degrees in agricultural studies. It keeps the career alive and helps the kids in our direct community.”

The festival took place over a span of four days and offered its guests the chance to meet new people, try new foods and experience the competitions and entertainers who wove their way through the crowds rather than being hosted on a stage, as has been practice in the past.

Jaiden Pugh, 17, a Huntington resident, said she has always loved going to Pumpkin Festival every year, and that it has become an integral part of her fall experience.

“Pumpkin Festival is a beautiful event,” Pugh said. “We get to eat amazing food and see crafts that people clearly put their whole hearts into. The huge pumpkin, the pageant, the carvings and reenactors, the whole event is a great way for everyone from all walks of life to come together and enjoy the fall colors and feelings. It’s just an amazing opportunity for West Virginians to forget some of our struggles and enjoy a sense of community.”

The largest pumpkin competition drew a large crowd in the end, with the winning pumpkin weighing a total of 1408 pounds, just 40 pounds shy of the state record.

Breanna Francis can be contacted at [email protected].