Rise of the bulls, return by hot air balloon to Pumpkinfest; Sponsors wanted for the 2022 event

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Planning for North Smithfield’s Great Pumpkin Festival 2022 is well underway, with a long list of vendors already signed up, bringing all the unique activities, entertainment and fall treats guests have come to expect from the event – and Moreover.

But the list of sponsors is shorter than expected for this year, according to festival president Elizabeth Featherston.

The event, which is scheduled to take place Saturday, Sept. 17, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the grounds of North Smithfield High School, has drawn around 5,200 guests in 2021. Featherston said she hopes to top that turnout in 2022, and is already mapping dozens of vendor booths, with input from local businesses, school and municipal groups, and other nonprofits.

“We had a phenomenal turnout last year,” said Featherston. “I was really excited about the number of people, the camaraderie, the family atmosphere. I hope it’s even better this year.

Pumpkinfest activities make the annual family festival stand out from others of its kind, and 2022 will be no exception. Two favourites: bull riding and Remax hot air balloon rides, return to the event this year. The fun features will be added to an already long list of Pumpkinfest regulars, ranging from a petting zoo and children’s games to a pumpkin pie baking contest. Remote-controlled cars, mini-golf and inflatable games will complete a multitude of free activities offered to the youngest.

This affordability – along with a low entry fee complemented by plenty of free activities – has also made the North Smithfield Fall Festival stand out in its 15-year history. It could be a bit difficult in 2022 if more sponsors don’t show up, according to the president.

“The festival uses sponsors, so the cost of admission is $1 per person. Unfortunately, sponsors are a bit light this year,” Featherston said. “We’ll work with what we have and go from there. before.”

Signed sponsors include Waterson Terminal Services; Stanley Tree; United Rentals; National marker; Smithfield North Pulse; The Stearns/McGee team; marketing coffee time; Beauty BL; Material Sand & Stone; and WOON Radio.

Featherston said there is plenty of room for more and those who cannot provide funding are welcome to sponsor goods and services.

“We’re still looking for that too,” she said.

Other sellers are also welcome, until the deadline of Thursday September 1st. Booths are $65 for businesses and individuals and $35 for nonprofit vendors.

This year, Ms Featherston said she expects to see all the booths from the usual vendors, plus a few newcomers. North Smithfield Fire & Rescue will bring its smokehouse to the event, and kids can play in a sandbox or visit Bobo the Clown. There will be martial arts and dance demonstrations, and a covered dining room where guests can sit and listen to performances. Goodies on sale will include lemonade, apple dumplings, ice cream, pasta, clam fritters, burgers, hot dogs, fries and more.

Animals in attendance will include alpacas from a local farm and visitors from Southwick Zoo’s traveling Zoomobile.

“Kids of all ages can pet, cuddle and learn about different animals,” Featherston said.

Headlining the entertainment is Worcester-based folk and blues band Colt & the Coyotes, with a full lineup of bands playing the Pumpkinfest stage throughout the day.

And, of course, there will be pumpkins, with gourds for painting, decorating, and a baking contest with cash prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.

However, the pumpkins won’t be flying through the air like many have in recent years. Featherston said the pumpkin trebuchet, built by an NSHS student as part of a senior project many years ago, was now in need of serious maintenance – or replacement.

“We’ve thrown away our last pumpkin yet,” she said.

Things will also be a little different when it comes to festival entry in 2022, with buttons sold only at the door, rather than in advance. Featherston said the festival committee has found that working with local stores to raise funds creates extra work.

The event marks a big effort for the group of volunteers, for a day of family fun that attracts up to 6,000 visitors. She notes that more help is always needed to help the festival succeed and grow.

“We have so many new committee members this year, which we’re very excited about,” Featherston said.

Those interested in participating, helping with donations, vendor booths, sponsorships or volunteer time can submit entries and more online at greatpumpkinfestival.org/.

“I’m excited that we’re going to have a really good day,” Featherston said.

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