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. “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.”
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, the festival is celebrating its 90th anniversary.
“So the theme is either ’90 golden years’ or ’90 reasons we like fall,’” Wysong said. “People will take those ideas and decorate accordingly.”
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). Commemorating the 90th anniversary, contestants are encouraged to dress according to a golden theme, from walking the red carpet at the Golden Globes to Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. Finally, there’s the Cutest Baby Contest, the Big Wheel Contest and the Kiddie Tractor Pull.
“It’s a good turnout for us,” Wysong said. “We have a lot of parents and grandparents who like to watch the little ones.”
The festival also includes a car show, a craft show, rides, a Lucy Pumpkin sweepstakes drawing, a school parade, and a pet and novelty parade, which naturally includes a Little Mr. and Miss Baby Pumpkin Contest. There are prizes for all contests, either cash or items.
“A lot of times, it’s car seats or just different stuff for the kids,” Wysong said.