Despite downpour, Pumpkin Daze a big hit

Steve Chapman

Sparky, with the Republic Fire Department, gives a low five to a youngster strolling through Pumpkin Daze.

With the encouragement of Kerry Edwards, Lunis Olsen, 8, of Billings, goes the distance for a full pull during the Pumpkin Daze kids tractor pull. (Photos by Ryan Squibb)

Move to J.R. Martin Park ‘went smoothly ... worked out well’
J.R. Martin Park was alive with activity on Saturday, Oct. 2 as thousands of people converged onto the grounds for the 30th annual Pumpkin Daze Festival. The event, this year a combined effort of both the Pumpkin Daze Committee and the City of Republic’s Parks and Recreation Department, featured almost 200 vendors, live entertainment, a produce growing competition, and more.
Festival sees huge early crowd, but rain cancels some activities
Crowds surged in the park on the morning of the festival, generating a great deal of business for the vendors.
“It was a very busy morning,” said Cheri Hamilton, president of the Pumpkin Daze Committee. “Everybody I talked to did amazing.”
In the middle of the day, a heavy rainstorm swept through the park, forcing the committee to cancel some activities. A band’s performance was called off, due to concerns with lightning, and the adult tractor pull was also canceled.
“With people pulling in to pack up and leave, I was afraid (the tractor pull) would get in the traffic’s way,” Hamilton said. Hamilton also said she also told the vendors they could leave early if they wanted.
“We didn’t want to force them stay because it was lightning, so we told anyone who wanted to leave at 2 p.m. (that they) could,” she said.
Volunteers key to festival’s success
Part of the festival’s success could be credited to the volunteers who held various roles throughout the event. The Republic High School chapter of the FFA had over 30 members come to help out in the festival. One of these was Natalie Harrison, 16, who helped out by weighing small vegetables during the produce-growing contest. For Harrison, it was not only a chance to serve, but to also get out and meet other people.
“I like hands-on activities, and I like helping out the public, and it’s a really good way for me to meet other members of our chapter,” she said.
Another volunteer was Roper Voskamp, 15. Voskamp, who said he did “did whatever was needed whenever it was needed,” said he also liked the social aspect of volunteering.
“What I most enjoyed was getting out and seeing people from the community come by and stop and talk to us and talk to them a little bit about FFA and what we do,” he said.
Smooth transition to park
Past Pumpkin Daze festivals have been held on Republic’s historic Main Street, but the festival was moved to J.R. Martin Park this year to accommodate more vendors and give festival-goers more room as they walked around. Hamilton said she believed the transition worked out very well.
“We felt the change to the park went very smoothly,” she said. “Obviously, we have some things we will change for next year but that has always been the case.”


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