Photo(s) by Shawn Nowlin
One word that people use to describe Salem’s Annual Pumpkinfest is “awesome.” When Malcolm Gray arrived at the Salem Farmer’s Market last Saturday, October 28, he had his daughter in one hand and his son, Michael, in the other.
“Within ten minutes, the word ‘awesome’ was used at least a dozen times,” Gray said with a smile. “I let them both get as much candy as they wanted. I’m going to use that as leverage for them to do more chores around the house.”
A $1.99 admission fee came with the usual carnival games, pumpkin giveaways, inflatables and a pumpkin auction. Kids who wore customs were admitted for free.
Dawn Martin’s favorite part about Pumpkinfest is how it brings the community together. “My family and I ran the food ticket table this year,” she said. “This event brings families and friends together for fun festivities while supporting amazing organizations like the Special Olympics.”
For Jordan Bivens and her family, getting to vote on their favorite pumpkin is what they love most about the annual event. “There aren’t many events that allow attendees to have input when it comes to the voting,” she said. “We appreciate that.”
Sponsored by Q-99, hotdogs and chips were sold throughout the day.
Taya Vivian’s goal was to collect four buckets of candy, and that’s what she ultimately did. “I didn’t think that my parents would let me get that much candy, but they did,” said the nine-year-old.
Last Saturday was Kia Moore’s first Pumpkinfest. She says she was so impressed that next year she will invite her entire family. “Sometimes you hear about events, and you’re not sure if what you’re being told is completely accurate,” she said. “I saw so many people visiting downtown businesses and showing off their costumes. Everything was great.”
One distinct memory comes to mind when Sam Copeland thinks about Pumpkinfest. “During middle school, my friends bet me that I couldn’t collect 150 bars in two-hours,” Copeland, now a college student, said. “Not only did they lose, but they also had to give me all of the candy they had collected.”
Pumpkinfest represents community awareness and acceptance for individuals with exceptionalities for Billy Ferguson. The Roanoke County native says he is now motivated to support organizations like the Special Olympics throughout the entire year.
According to Josh McKissic, the best way to enjoy Pumpkinfest is simple. “Come with a smile on your face, joy in your heart and be ready to have a good time,” he said.