Pumpkin Fest hayride

Visitors enjoy a hayride down Main Street during Pumpkin Fest in 2019. After a one-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, the event is slated to be held again this fall.

Cases of COVID-19 are dropping and numbers of area residents vaccinated are rising. It’s time to think about the return of popular events. The Downtown Bradford Business District Authority is partnering with The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford to bring back one popular, family friendly event — Pumpkin Fest.

Recognizing that the situation with COVID-19 is fluid, the committee stated the following:

“The Pumpkin Fest Committee will be closely following all COVID-19 guidelines. We will comply with all CDC recommendations on the day of the event. Should we have to cancel the event, full refunds of vendor fees will be issued.”

Meanwhile, with an eye on the positive and plans for an outdoor event like Pumpkin Fest to be manageable this year, one new activity is intended to provide a fun chance for competition.

“We’re bringing in a new attraction called ‘The Meltdown.’ Fans of the TV show ‘Wipeout’ will be familiar,” Sarah Matzner, Main Street/Elm Street Coordinator, said. “It allows eight participants at one time to dodge or jump over two spinning booms.

“One of the things we noticed in previous years was that the lines for the attractions would get pretty long at times, so that’s when we decided to look for something that would allow more participants at once to keep the line moving quicker and that’s how we came across ‘The Meltdown.’”

There are a number of popular activities that are set for a return in 2021.

“This year we’re bringing back the Mechanical Pumpkin — just like a mechanical bull, but it’s a pumpkin. We had it a few years ago and it was a big hit,” Matzner said.

In addition, Hayrides, the rock climbing wall, the YMCA’s bounce house and several local craft vendors are among the familiar events and faces set for a return to Pumpkin Fest.

As in previous years, the event will be held on Main Street.

Matzner explained that vendors typically take the opportunity to have tables set up outside. A food court is organized on Chambers Street and various rides and attractions temporarily take up residence in the parking lots of various businesses.

While the official date has not been released, the event does take place during The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford’s Alumni & Family Weekend.

“Each year, student clubs and organizations participate by holding the KidsZone where they put on activities and games for our local families at no cost to the families,” Matzner said. “They’ve done things like pumpkin painting, pumpkin carving and even a caricature artist. We have a few UPB faculty members on our committee and we’re very grateful to have the university’s support. From the feedback we get, I’d say the students have just as much fun as the kids do.”

The specific clubs and organizations taking part won’t be finalized until the fall. However, the event is popular among university students as well as the local youth.

“Our students enjoy taking part and watching area children have so much fun at KidZone,” said Pat Frantz Cercone, executive director of communications and marketing for the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. “It’s a great way for our students to connect with youngsters from the community.”

The KidsZone is set up in Veterans Square.

Another activity planned for the day is “Bobbing for Apples”, where two participants are harnessed to a bungee cord and they race each other to reach the center and be the one with the most apples when time is up.

There is also a plan for live music, although no specific acts have been officially booked at this time.

This year’s “Signature Sponsors” for the event are the Blaisdell Foundation and Northwest Savings Bank. All sponsors are important to the success of the event, according to Matzner.

Karen Costello-Pecht is the Pumpkin Fest Committee’s Chair.

Applications for food and craft vendors are currently being accepted. Those interested are asked to email bfdpumpkinfest@gmail.com.

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