WORTH THE DRIVE: Pumpkins have taken over this small town near Dayton as part of week-long festival

Bradford’s five-day pumpkin festival also has the Christmas spirit

You’ve heard of pumpkin festivals, but how about one that takes up an entire town for five entire days?

That is the case in Bradford, a town located about 35 miles northwest of Dayton.

While there are numerous pumpkin-related activities such as the bake-a-pumpkin contest and the smash-a-pumpkin (as fun as it sounds), one of the things that makes the Bradford Pumpkin Festival stand out is the “confetti” tradition. It’s so embedded into the culture that there’s even instructions on how to keep it out of your eyes (and what to do if it does).

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“We’ve had that for years,” said Jim Wysong, festival president, in an interview before the festival’s 90th celebration in 2018. “Years ago, some people from Bradford went to Circleville and discovered people selling it. Now, when you walk down the street, it’ll be 6-10 inches deep.”


In a small community like Bradford, the festival is a true community tradition. The festival extends even to the private homes of Bradford and the surrounding area. Every year, people decorate their houses according to an annual theme.

This year’s theme? Fall into Christmas.


The festival also has an unusually high number of kid-oriented events. The Pumpkin Diaper Derby is for crawling babies, who will race across a carpeted race course at the urging of their parents. The Pumpkin Run is a race for walking babies up to four years old, divided by age group. There’s also the Prince & Princess Contest (6-11 years old) and the Little Miss and Master Pumpkin Contest (2-5 years old). There will be a Pumpkin Queen (high school grades 10-12), as well as a Cheerleading Competition.

There is a Bake a Pumpkin contest, a Big Wheel Contest, a Cutest Baby Contest and the Kiddie Tractor Pull.

There are prizes for all contests, either cash or items.

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The festival also includes a car show, a craft show, rides, a Lucy Pumpkin sweepstakes drawing, a school parade, a pet and novelty parade, rides and more.


One of the festival highlights is the Smash-a-Pumpkin contest, this year at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 12.

Here’s how it works:

Purchase a ticket 1 for $1, 7 for $5 or 21 tickets for $10 from any board member, committee member, or at the festival headquarters during the week of the Pumpkin Show.

All of the tickets will be placed in a raffle drum. Ten tickets

will be drawn on Saturday night and each of the ten “winners” will choose a pumpkin to smash. Pumpkins will contain cash from $15 to $200. One pumpkin will have a Lucky Pumpkin Sweepstakes ticket inside for a chance to win up to $1,000 in the Saturday night Lucky Pumpkin drawing at 10 p.m.

Tickets for that drawing are $25 each with five prizes ranging from $100 to $1,000.


Tuesday, Oct. 8

Midway open: 4-10 p.m.

• 4 p.m.: Rides and Midway Open

• 5:30 p.m.: Pumpkin Diaper Derby & Pumpkin City Run (registration is at 4:30 p.m.), North End Stage

• 7 p.m.: Parade

• Immediately following parade: Prince and Princess Contest pre-registration only), North End Stage

Wednesday, Oct. 9

Midway open: 4-10 p.m.

• 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.: Bake-A-Pumpkin Contest Entries Accepted at Clark's Pizza House

• 4 p.m.:  Rides and Midway Open

• 4:30 p.m.: Little Miss and Master Pumpkin (pre-registration only), North End Stage

• 7 p.m.: Parade

• Immediately following parade: Miss Pumpkin Queen Contest (pre-registration only), North End Stage

Thursday, Oct. 10

Midway Open: 4-10 p.m. 

• 4 p.m.: Rides and Midway Open

• 4:30 p.m.: Kiddie Tractor Pull (NOTE: Registration is at 3:30 pm) - Midway near Secretary's Office

• 7 p.m.: Parade - See parade route on map

• Immediately following parade: Cheerleading Competition (pre-registration only), North End Stage

Friday, Oct. 11 

Midway Open: 1-11 p.m.

• 1 p.m.: Rides and Midway Open

• 1:30 p.m.: School parade

• 4:30 p.m.: Big Wheel Contest (registration is at 4 p.m.) at Midway near Secretary's Office

• 8 p.m.: Live music by Spittin' Image, North End Stage

Saturday, Oct. 12 

Midway Open: 10 a.m. - 11 p.m. 

• 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.: Car Show, back of Village of Bradford Park behind rides

• 10 a.m.: Rides and Midway Open

• 12 p.m.: Craft Show Opens (end time varies by vendor), South Midway

• 12 p.m.: Pet & Novelty Parade, starts at City Building ends at North End Stage

• 2 p.m.: Cutest Baby Contest (judging and lineup begins at 1:30 p.m.), North End Stage

• 4 p.m.: Extravaganza Parade

• 5 p.m.: Smash-A-Pumpkin (tickets on sale all week), North End Stage

• 10 p.m.: Lucky Pumpkin Sweepstakes (tickets on sale all week) - North End Stage


What: Bradford Pumpkin Show

When: Oct. 8-12, 2019

Where: 115 N. Miami Ave., Bradford

Cost: No admission cost

More Info: www.bradfordpumpkinshow.org

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