Turners event continues to grow
Jack-o’-lanterns both comic and scary lined Avenue A in Turners Falls during the fourth annual Franklin County Pumpkinfest on Saturday.
Austin Pinette, 7, of Hadley shows off his Boston Red Sox cap next to a baseball-themed jack-o’-lantern at the fourth annual Franklin County Pumpkinfest held in Turners Falls on Saturday.
Live fire dancing shows are always a popular part of the Franklin County Pumpkinfest. Dancers swung flaming "pois" soaked in naptha, a liquid fuel used in camping stoves and lanterns.
A jack-o'-lantern sports a nose like Pinocchio at the fourth annual Franklin County Pumpkinfest held on Avenue A in Turners Falls on Saturday. An estimated 15,000 people attended the event, which included vendors, music, a lantern parade and sky lantern send-off.
TURNERS FALLS — Just like its namesake squash, the Franklin County Pumpkinfest keeps growing and growing.
Thousands of people descended on the village Saturday for the festival, in its fourth year.
There was fun for all ages, from the kids’ games to the beer gardens and pumpkin carving to live music. This makes for an event some families refuse to miss.
“We’ve been every year,” said Sara Johnson of Bernardston. “I love how it brings the community together. I’m always amazed to see so many people.”
Johnson came with her husband Scott, and their daughters Maeve, 6, and Sadie, 2.
“My favorite part is the lantern parade,” said Maeve. She said she also enjoys running into her school chums at the annual event.
For just $1, kids could decorate their own paper pumpkins, lit with an LED from inside. At 6:30, they lined up and marched down Avenue A in a parade of light.
“It’s amazing how the festival grows every year,” said Scott Johnson. “It seems like there are even more people and more vendors than last year.”
Though the jack-o’-lanterns shown brightest after sunset, people didn’t wait until it was dark to start having fun.
“We had a nice, big, steady crowd, right from the start at 2 p.m. and up until the last minute at 9,” said event organizer Michael Nelson.
Vendors, selling everything from leather handbags to food and arts and crafts, lined Avenue A from 2nd Street to 7th Street. There were 110 in total, said Nelson.
There was plenty of entertainment, too. Peskeomskut Park hosted a dance stage, a music stage, and a beer garden where all four Franklin County breweries poured pints.
There were also dance and music stages up and down Avenue A and live music at the new River Station art gallery on 3rd Street.
Jack-o’-lanterns were found all up and down the avenue, on the sidewalk, on the front steps of buildings and on tiered shelving in the middle of the road.
“Putting the shelves in the middle of the avenue was new, and people seemed to love it,” Nelson said. “It was a powerful display; people were constantly taking pictures.”
Nelson said there were more than 860 carved pumpkins this year. The carvings ranged from simple, toothy grins to intricate designs.
While some come for the jack-o’-lanterns, the music and the many types of pumpkin food, others like their entertainment to have an element of danger.
“My favorite part is the fire dancing,” said Austin Pinette, 7, of Hadley.
His father, Jerome Pinette, enjoyed taking pictures of the fire dancers with his camera. The motion of their swinging “pois” were captured in long, streaking trails and some of the photos were downright ominous.
“One of the guys was breathing fire and I got it just at the right time. This one looks like a fire demon,” said Pinette, showing off a photo of a cloud of flame with what appeared to be a face at the top.
Those plumes weren’t the only fire in the sky. Twice Saturday, people released floating lanterns. The heat from their flaming fuel filled the paper lanterns, lifting them high in the sky, as air currents sent them drifting toward Greenfield at the end of the night.
In earthier matters, the festival and the Franklin County Solid Waste Management District this year diverted two thirds of the 22 cubic yards of waste generated from landfills to recycling and compost, Nelson said.
Nelson said he and the rest of the Pumpkinfest crew are already planning next year’s festival, to be held Oct. 18.
David Rainville can be reached at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279