South Shore Breaker

Promenade among the Pumpkin People

Town of Kentville welcomes all to celebrate fall harvest

- GENEVIEVE MACINTYRE To learn more about this year’s festival, visit Pumpkinpeo­plefestiva­l

Each year, the town of Kentville celebrates the harvest season with activities and festivitie­s, welcoming many visitors to the Annapolis Valley. But one festival, in particular, welcomes extra festive visitors known as the Pumpkin People.

The Pumpkin People have been showing up as an annual attraction in Kentville since the ‘90s, and this year’s Pumpkin People Festival presents an Animal Kingdom theme for folks of all ages to explore.

Between Oct. 1 and 29, visitors and residents will be able to spot the displays of the Pumpkin People throughout Kentville, along the Park Street to Main Street route. The public is invited to stroll among them and take photos with the “gourd-geous” creations.

Lindsay Young, community and economic developmen­t coordinato­r for the Town of Kentville, says the Pumpkin People was an original idea many years ago by the group now known as the Kentville Business Community to attract tourism in the shoulder season.

“The idea was to bookend the tourism season in Kentville by celebratin­g harvest time in the Valley and bringing folks into town to eat, shop, and explore the area,” says Young. “We welcome spring with the Apple Blossom Festival, and we welcome fall with the arrival of the Pumpkin People!”

Susan Carey, manager of visitor services for the Town of Kentville, says the Pumpkin People and other local harvestthe­med festivitie­s bring an increase in visitors to the area each fall.

“Rooms are sold out often, and people are excited and invigorate­d by the new season, the beautiful fall colours and the numerous things to do here and in the surroundin­g areas,” Carey says. “There are gorgeous trails to hike, wines to sample, apples to pick and much more. Fall is becoming a favorite time for many people to visit the Annapolis Valley and the province.”

In addition to the Pumpkin People, the Kentville Centre Square hosts a family-friendly Harvest Festival on Oct. 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and a weekly Farmers’ Market every Wednesday morning.

This year the Kentville

Business Community is also presenting a month-long culinary celebratio­n featuring all things pumpkin, called ‘The Great Pumpkin Palate Pleaser,’ where local food establishm­ents will be offering special pumpkinthe­med menu items.

Young adds that over the years, the Pumpkin People Festival, which began as a grassroots operation, grew so much in popularity that the town stepped in after a few years to assist by providing additional resources. The town now operates the festival internally with a combinatio­n of staff members and community partnershi­ps, featuring new creative themes each fall.

Local artist Gerry Little has been building the props, sourcing the materials (many that otherwise would have been destined for the trash), painting

the pumpkin heads and creating the display scenes for more than 20 years.

Young and Little work with the themes decided internally by the staff, and before moving forward with bringing them to life, they first must determine that the proposed Pumpkin People will be likable, inclusive, and welcoming for everyone.

Maintainin­g the originalit­y and creativity of the Pumpkin People, as well as being mindful about keeping waste creation to a minimum, are important parts of the Pumpkin People planning.

“In 2021, we did a dinosaur

theme, and so we already knew we’d do Animal Kingdom this year because Gerry can change a T-rex into a camel, and a stegosauru­s into a gorilla, no problem!” says Young. “We reuse everything we possibly can.”

In addition to camels and gorillas, Young adds that visitors to this year’s festival should expect to see animals galore – including leopards, giraffes, ostriches and much more mixed in with the 300 Pumpkin People scattered throughout Kentville. Some will even include interactiv­e props for children.

Young adds that the Pumpkin People bring magic and a special, exciting feeling to Kentville each year.

“Pumpkin People have no assigned gender or race, and they openly love and respect everyone,” says Young. “They wear whatever they want, and they express themselves freely with confidence, pride, and humor. We want everyone who lives in or visits Kentville to feel they can express themselves as freely as the Pumpkin People do.”

 ?? PHOTO CONTRIBUTE­D ?? The Pumpkin People Festival has been an annual attraction in Kentville since the ‘90s.
PHOTO CONTRIBUTE­D The Pumpkin People Festival has been an annual attraction in Kentville since the ‘90s.
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