Northwoods Adventure: Bad Harvest Doesn’t Stop Brainerd’s Great Pumpkin Fest
“Today is the 12th annual Great Pumpkin Festival, and it’s one of those events we look forward to every year because it is a great family event and [a] great community event,” Tony Sailer, Brainerd Parks & Recreation Director, said.
It may have been a rainy afternoon, but that did not stop families in Brainerd from coming out to Gregory Park for the Great Pumpkin Festival.
“It’s just a fun activity to be out here and watch the kids,” Jeremy Doyle, a pie throwing competitor, said. “When the adults get into things, kids get into things, and so I just wanted to show my kids that we can have fun as a family out here.”
There was no shortage of activities, with bouncy ball races, three-legged races pie-eating competitions, and even a sack race where competitors hopped their way to the finish line. And the races weren’t just for the kids.
“Some of the biggest smiles we have seen is when the child is with the parent,” Sailer said. “That’s what it is, let’s get everyone involved in it.”
“My daughter and I actually competed in the three-legged race, too, and I ended up flat on my face on the ground, so that didn’t go so well,” Doyle said. “But it’s just a great way to spend time with your kids.”
It was a free event, and families could even leave with a pumpkin of their own, but for a while, it looked like there might not be any pumpkins at the festival.
“When we planted them they started coming up, but with the rain they kind of rotted off,” Sheree Evenson, Outback Trail Rides’ Owner, said. “So, we had to call Tony and say, “no 89 pumpkins”.”
“We kind of banked on our sponsorship by Walmart to get us a small amount, probably around 16 pumpkins,” Katie Kaufman, Brainerd’s Recreation Specialist, said. “But that’s 16 people that get to leave today with a free pumpkin.”
The festival is an idea that started twelve years ago and has now become a staple in the city of Brainerd.
“It’s an idea that I got from my nephew who grew up in Ohio,” Sailer said. “So, I kind of stole the idea from Ohio and brought it up here, and it has been a smashing success ever since.”
There may have been a shortage of pumpkins this year, but there was no shortage of fun at the Great Pumpkin Festival.