The West Virginia Pumpkin Festival is an annual celebration of the Autumn season and the fall harvest. Each year, during the first weekend of October the small town of Milton comes alive with close to 50,000 people attending the festival to participate in the Fall festivities at Pumpkin Park.
The first WV Pumpkin Festival was held in 1986 and began as a small gathering to aid local farmers in the raising and selling of pumpkins and other Fall produce. Now, over 30 years later, the festival has become a fall tradition for many families in and around the beautiful state of West Virginia.
The festival began very small, taking place at the little league field next door to the current location of Pumpkin Park. The festival now occurs on over 80 acres and has gained significant popularity since the first festival in October 1986. The WV Department of Agriculture and the WV Department of Labor and Commerce started the festival due to the lack of festivals in the area. The pumpkin gained center stage at the festival and has now become the overall theme with vendors, festivities, food, and contests all centered around the Fall fruit.
Festival events include live bands and music, lumberjack shows, historical reenactments at the Living History Encampment, helicopter rides, butterfly feeding, and a multitude of food and vendors. There is pumpkin picking and may activities for children such as bounce houses and face paint. Local vendors and business use the opportunity to market their services and products. One of the most famous aspects of the WV Pumpkin Festival is the food. Food vendors try to bring at least one pumpkin themed menu item; the most popular food is the Pumpkin Ice Cream. Other pumpkin treats offered at the festival typically include pumpkin coffee, pumpkin rolls, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, and pumpkin fudge. Other fan favorites are the kettle corn and the fire-roasted corn on the cob.
Mark Cooper is the current president of the WV Pumpkin Festival and has been with the festival and committee since the very first Pumpkin Festival back in 1986. Cooper and other volunteers work hard to keep the festival going and improving every year. They put in a lot of hours and man-power for no pay to make sure the residence of the area and other festival guests get to enjoy the welcoming of the Fall season at the Pumpkin Festival each year. Cooper had a fondness for the festival when speaking with him and was very open to being interviewed.
The WV Pumpkin Festival holds a special place in the hearts of the residence of the area and is a tradition for many families. The festival shows the old-ways of doing things and brings in the history of different time periods of history in the reenactments. It helps bring together a community and brings economic growth to the area. It is a wonderful opportunity for local businesses and the festival even runs a scholarship program for local high-school students looking to continue their education.