The end of the summer season is approaching, and fall is just around the corner. And with the crisp air and colorful leaves comes all things pumpkin, including the Great Pumpkin Festival.
On Oct. 1, the Town of Millville will be holding its 3rd Annual Great Pumpkin Festival.
“One of the goals I had was to try to unite the community more than it is,” explained former mayor and festival committee member Don Minyon. “Like a lot of communities, we have a lot of people who come in from different places. I was thinking of different ways to bring people together in our community. So the pumpkin festival was kind of a natural.”
The festival will again be held on the grounds of the Millville Volunteer Fire Company’s fire hall, beginning at 7:30 a.m. Last year, close to 4,000 people attended the festival – a number Minyon hopes to exceed this year. And, toward that end, many new features have been added to the festival this year to help draw interest.
“I think we’re really trying to build off the success of the success of the festival last year,” said Committee Chairperson Kami Banks. “This year we’re going to have crafters in the indoor space at the fire hall – just by adding that space, just to draw a different kind of people – to make the festival just a little bit better than last year.”
Banks said a variety of goods will be sold inside the fire hall, from jewelry to farmers’ market items, and she noted that there were only eight spaces left for inside vendors as of this week.
“We have people who are selling soaps and honeys… and arts, as well. We’re just trying just trying to expand the whole day,” Banks explained. “Our purpose for this is to bring people in and recognize the town of Millville, but also to have a low-cost family friendly day where people can come and people of all ages can have something to do.”
The business-friendly event also allows local businesses to purchase sponsorship, which helps pay for the day’s activities. Depending on the level of sponsorship, participating businesses may have their own table set up to sell or distribute goods or receive recognition throughout the festival, as well as have their name of the festival’s official T-shirt.
Based on the success of the past two years, the festival has expanded into the fire hall, which will also be used to help support local Girl Scouts by housing a pumpkin pancake breakfast, from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. on the morning of the festival. Breakfast attendees will pay a modest fee for the meal, with proceeds going to the Girl Scouts, as the festival gets under way.
“People can come, have breakfast, and then go right out to the fair,” said Minyon.
Another new feature of this year’s festival will be free off-site parking, with a shuttle bus that will take attendees right to the fire hall.
“We’re also offering a free shuttle service, as well, to make it easier for people to get in and out of town,” said Banks.
The shuttle will run from remote parking locations including the nearby Doric Lodge, town hall, Millville United Methodist Church and Lord Baltimore Elementary School.
Once people get to the fire hall, plenty of kids’ activities will be on offer, including a rock-climbing wall, moon bounce, batter’s cage and an inflatable slide.
Some old favorites – including local magician and magic theater owner Rich Bloch, who wowed audiences last year with his magic show, and Mark Marvel’s Overtime Band – will be returning to perform on the festival’s stage.
“They’ve been successful for the last two years, and they draw a great crowd,” said Banks.
There will also be a traditional pie-eating contest and a contest to find the best pumpkin pie recipe. Bonkey’s Ice Cream will also be attending, serving up pumpkin-pie ice cream.
Minyon said that the festival itself is not intended to raise money for the Town but rather to draw positive attention to the town and to its wonderful businesses.
“It’s a great way to showcases our businesses. I wanted to have as many businesses who wanted to, to be represented at the pumpkin festival, so they could get the word out as to who they are, where they are and what they do.”
To learn how to become a sponsor of the festival, visit www.millville.delaware.gov or contact Kami Banks at (302) 236-0446 or Don Minyon at (302) 362-5925.