By Dennis Hackett
WESTFIELD- For the third straight year Westfield on Weekends’ PumpkinFest transformed downtown Westfield into an autumn celebration with activities for the whole family Oct. 19.
The festival took over the entire Park Square Green and part of Elm Street with tents for artists and vendors and various other activities. On the green, tents were set up along with the free children’s pumpkin carving event and the main stage for the day’s festivities, where several performances, including one by the All-Star Dance Center took place throughout the day. Then squarely in the middle of the park were the completed jack o’ lanterns arranged on tables going directly down the middle of the green.
One of the draws for Westfield families was the Scarecrow Trail collaboration between Westfield on Weekends and the Westfield Public School department that had students embark on a scavenger hunt to find their drawings displayed throughout the area in order to be entered into the festivals Pick-a-Palooza raffle.
Kimberly Morris, one of the parents attending the festival, said they came to find her son’s drawing as part of the scavenger hunt but said she thought the PumpkinFest was a fun event for everyone. “There’s a lot to do for the whole family, so it’s a fun day to spend downtown,” she said. She added this was the second year she and her family attended the festival.
Along Elm Street children had the opportunity to take part in a trunk or treat with several cars set up to give out candy, with the rest of the street full of various local vendors selling handmade goods and food in the Harvest Market.
Lori Leblanc, owner of Wickedly Wild Gourmet sauces, brought her selection of barbecue and other seasonal sauces to the festival, offering free samples and selling her stock as well. She said she first started making the sauces four years ago after she ran out of barbecue sauce at home.
“I made my own barbecue sauce one day and while my sons were cub scouts, I brought it to a fundraiser and then people started calling me at my house asking for more so then I started making more of my own rubs and marinades,” she said.
Along with the food, vendors also brought along their own hand-crafted goods and art. Heidi Paul, one of the craft vendors at the festival, said started making jewelry with her husband 20 years ago before expanding into bead art in the past couple of years, but this was their first year at PumpkinFest.
“We came this year because we love looking at different craft events and taking part in them,” she said.
Sadie Dybizbanski of Hand by Hand Designs, brought along her handmade scarfs, bags and keychains to sell for the festival. She said she started her business just over three years ago and decided this was her first year at PumpkinFest.
She said she was happy to take part in PumpkinFest this year because “it’s family friendly with lots of activities for the kids. And I love pumpkins!”