Young, young at heart loved pump­kin fes­ti­val...

Prairie Post (West Edition) - - Front Page - BY HEATHER CAMERON

NICE MICE: 95-year-old Brownie Wit­beck from Ray­mond shows off his ‘mouse house’ pump­kin at the Green Haven Pump­kin Fes­ti­val in Leth­bridge last week. It is a fundraiser for the Chil­dren’s Wish Foun­da­tion.

Af­ter early to­tals, ap­prox­i­mately $21,000 was raised for the Chil­dren’s Wish Foun­da­tion at the 29th An­nual Gi­ant Pump­kin Fes­ti­val, which was held at the Green Haven Gar­den Cen­tre in Leth­bridge.

“The Gi­ant Pump­kin Fes­ti­val ac­tu­ally started with Earl’s Restau­rant in Leth­bridge,” noted Shan­non Elves, who was in charge of in­for­ma­tion con­cern­ing the fes­ti­val. “They just had the grow­ing con­test at first, but he part­nered with the ladies at the Green Haven Gar­den Cen­tre and they ex­panded the fes­ti­val.”

Ad­mis­sion to the fes­ti­val it­self was free, Elves said, but there was a $5 charge for wrist­bands that would al­low peo­ple to par­tic­i­pate in the ac­tiv­i­ties.

“The pump­kin fes­ti­val is a com­mu­nity event where fam­i­lies and kids can come en­joy them­selves and all funds col­lected are raised for the Chil­dren’s Wish Foun­da­tion,” Elves said. “It takes about $10,000 to grant a child’s wish, so our goal is to raise $30,000 and hope­fully, we’ll be able to grant at least three wishes.”

Ac­tiv­i­ties at the Pump­kin Fes­ti­val in­cluded bouncy cas­tles, games, pump­kin dec­o­rat­ing, a photo booth, a pup­pet show, a pet­ting zoo, and face paint­ing. There was also a bar­be­cue lunch and the sell­ing of both pump­kins and hol­i­day goods such as fudge, cook­ies, and pump­kin pies.

“The Chil­dren’s Wish Foun­da­tion is a very im­por­tant cause, “This cause gives them a lot of hope while they’re go­ing through their med­i­cal ap­point­ments and it also gives the fam­ily hope.”

Prior to the awards pre­sen­ta­tion for the big­gest pump­kins, sev­eral peo­ple spoke about the day, what it meant to them to help Chil­dren’s Wish, and about their con­tri­bu­tions.

“Thanks for com­ing out to such an awe­some, awe­some event for us and Chil­dren’s Wish,” said Karen Barby, a mem­ber of the Green Haven Gar­den Cen­tre Com­mit­tee. “All of the money that we raised here to­day will go to lo­cal wishes; to South­ern Al­berta wishes.”

“What a great event,” said Di­rect En­ergy rep­re­sen­ta­tive Gary New­comb. “We try to give back to the com­mu­ni­ties that we serve. I don’t think there’s any­thing more im­por­tant or any bet­ter way to di­rect our en­ergy than sup­port the Chil­dren’s Wish Foun­da­tion. We’re proud to be giv­ing a do­na­tion to­day to help chil­dren like Jack­son and other kids in Leth­bridge and South­ern Al­berta so they can have their wishes come true.”

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the Im­manuel Lutheran Church then spoke and promptly do­nated the pro­ceeds of the church’s Ladies’ Salad Sup­per, which to­taled $539, to Chil­dren’s Wish.

A young boy named Jaxon, who was in a wheel­chair, then came to the front with his fam­ily and his mother, Brenda, spoke about how Jaxon’s pe­di­a­tri­cian asked if it would be okay to give in­for­ma­tion to the Make A Wish Foun­da­tion. Brenda, of course, agreed. Within three days, the fam­ily had been ap­proved for a wish and sent a pack­age.

“We asked Jaxon what he wanted to do for his wish and he im­me­di­ately told us on his de­vice that he wanted to go to Dis­ney,” Brenda said. “Then, he pulled up YouTube videos of Dis­ney World at Christ­mas time and then pulled up videos of Star Wars Land. He then showed us a video of a lightsaber video with Darth Vader. Jaxon’s wish is to go to Dis­ney World at Christ­mas­time, bat­tle Darth Vader in Star Wars Land, and open the park.”

Fol­low­ing the speeches, Brook­sie from Coun­try 95.5 an­nounced the top four fin­ish­ers in the gi­ant pump­kin con­test.

Fourth place, which was $100 cash from Green Haven, a $25 gift card from Earl’s, and a one-year on­line sub­scrip­tion to the Leth­bridge Her­ald; went to John Bichma and his 244-pound pump­kin.

Third place, which was $150 cash from Green Haven, a $25 gift card from Earl’s, and a one-year on­line sub­scrip­tion to the Leth­bridge Her­ald; went to John Sch­nei­der and his 437-pound pump­kin.

Se­cond place, which was $200 cash from Green Haven, a $25 gift card from Earl’s, and a one-year on­line sub­scrip­tion to the Leth­bridge Her­ald went to Phyl­lis Visser and her 476-pound pump­kin.

This year’s hon­or­able men­tion went to 95-year-old Ray­mond res­i­dent Brownie Wit­beck, who made a spe­cial pump­kin dec­o­rated up like a mouse house. “It might not be the big­gest one here, but it’s the most cre­ative,” Brook­sie said.

First place, which was $300 cash from Green Haven, a $50 gift card from Earl’s, and a one-year on­line sub­scrip­tion to the Leth­bridge Her­ald went to Brian Haas and his 761-pound pump­kin.

“Any­one that would like to take up the chal­lenge to grow a gi­ant pump­kin, they are a spe­cial va­ri­ety of seed and the seeds are avail­able at Green Haven ev­ery year,” Brook­sie said. “Give it some thought and maybe next year, you could be one of our top four fin­ish­ers.”

Over­all, Green Haven Gar­den Cen­tre was happy with the turnout and also very happy with the amount of money raised for Chil­dren’s Wish. De­spite the cold weather, Elves says the Cen­tre staff con­sid­ers the event suc­cess­ful.

Top: Fam­i­lies en­joy what the pump­kin fes­ti­val has to of­fer with Chil­dren’s WIsh helper Joanne Setla look­ing on. Be­low left: Lo­gan Neil paints a pump­kin at the fes­ti­val. Be­low right: Jack­son (front), Brenda (left), and Danika, share Jack­son’s wish to go to Dis­ney­world at Christ­mas time, have a lightsaber fight with Darth Vader in Star Wars World, and open the park.

Photo by Heather Cameron

Pho­tos by Heather Cameron

Brian Haas shows off his first-place, 761-pound pump­kin.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the Im­manuel Lutheran Church do­nates the pro­ceeds of the church’s Ladies’ Salad Sup­per, which to­taled $539, to Chil­dren’s Wish Foun­da­tion.

Pho­tos by Heather Cameron

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