By: Tara Blue
Thousands descended upon the village of Hartsburg this past weekend for the 32nd Annual Pumpkin Festival to celebrate the town’s unique agricultural history. The charming little village sits in the rich Missouri River bottom, giving the soil the ability to produce unique and bountiful harvests of grains, grasses, fruits, and vegetables (hartsburgpumpkinfest.com).
The festival began in 1991 by the Hartsburg Bike and Social Club as the self-proclaimed “Missouri Pumpkin Patch” and has taken place every year except during the 1993 flood and 2020 COVID shutdown.
The festival stays true to its roots, featuring more than 175 different booths and vendors to showcase their outstanding arts and crafts, musical entertainment, Halloween decorations, a variety of seasonal foods and drinks, and much more.
The festival begins with a parade and is followed by the crowning of a “Pumpkin King or Queen” to honor a person who has contributed to the culture of Hartsburg. This year’s Pumpkin King is Mayor of Hartsburg Bill Molendorp.
As many traditions continued this year, a new feature was added. To help reduce the amount of traffic to the area, a new shuttle service was provided by Any Event Luxury Transportation. The service ran all day Saturday and Sunday, starting at the primary and elementary schools and dropping off near the Hitching Post. The shuttle was a welcomed success, providing transportation to more than 250 people.
Ashland FFA students and staff directed parking traffic this year, successfully managing the flow of an estimated 25,000-30,000 visitors (festival coordinator Jeri Cooper). The $5 parking fee collected by the FFA staff goes back to the FFA program to support their various outreach activities.
Festival coordinator Jeri Cooper extends her gratitude to the community, “Thank you to everyone-volunteers, vendors, and visitors that made for another successful year of the Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival. Year 32 is in the books. Can’t wait until next year.”