Pumpkin Fest builds excitement


Lee County Resident and owner of Sweet Earth, Roseann Para hands and DeKalb county resident Sue Lederer hand out candy to 9 year old Justice Dueringer, a resident of Sycamore.

By Cris Rojo

DeKALB — An estimated 1,000 entries in the decorated pumpkin display, carnival rides and loads of fall fun all wait in store at Sycamore’s 56th annual Pumpkin Fest.

Students and members of the community can head over to downtown Sycamore to enjoy this year’s Pumpkin Fest which will take place Oct. 25 through Oct. 29 for a weekend of fall festivities. Founded in 1956 by Wally Thurow, also known as ‘Mr. Pumpkin,’ Pumpkin Fest began as a simple showcasing of decorated pumpkins on Thurow’s front lawn in an effort to spread the Halloween spirit, according to the official Pumpkin Fest website.

In 1962, Thurow and the Sycamore Lions Club made it possible for Pumpkin Fest to become an official celebration in Sycamore, making it a staple of culture in the community.

“Well the first year I think we had 300 entries [in the pumpkin decorating display,]” Pumpkin Fest historian Jerry Malmassari said. “Now we’re sporting over 1,000 entries each year on the courthouse lawn.”

Malmassari said he can remember a time when he counted about 3,000 pumpkins on the courthouse lawn. This year’s theme for the pumpkin decorating is “Pumpkins Across the Decades.”

Attendees are encouraged to experience other activities as well, from craft shows to carnivals. The annual Pumpkin Fest parade, which showcases organizations from the DeKalb and Sycamore community, is expected to draw a large crowd as it usually does, according to Malmassari.

“This year we are going to have 16 bands [in the parade,]” Pumpkin Fest president Bart Desch said. “There’s a wide variety of activities, whether it’s coming downtown and visiting the vendors or going through the carnival, or even doing the craft shows.”

This year’s Pumpkin Fest will feature three craft shows hosted by Sycamore high school, 427 Spartan Trail, the Sycamore United Methodist Church, 160 Johnson Ave., and Cornerstone Christian Academy, 355 North Cross St.

The Sycamore high school craft show will have an autumn craft and treasures market, located at the high school’s field house. Running 9 a.m. to 5 p.m Oct. 28 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 29 from, admission for the show is $2 for adults and $1 for seniors and students.

On Oct. 27 from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Oct. 28 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Methodist Church will be hosting a free craft show with crafters who will be displaying their work. Cornerstone Christian Academy’s craft show will be Oct. 28 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will host a variety of vendors.

Pumpkin Fest will also offer a variety of vendors in downtown Sycamore featuring organizations from the DeKalb-Sycamore community. The vendors will be offering a wide range of food and beverage options for guests.

“What we have kept is close knit to the vision, some people will say that it’s not fair, but it really is fair in the fact that you can only participate as vendor if you are a DeKalb county non for profit organization,” Malmassari said. “You have to be service group like a Rotary Club, Lions Club, or a girl scout. Those are the groups that can directly benefit.”

Vendors for this year’s festival include Boy Scout Troop 40, Friends of Jams and Oaken Acres Wildlife Reserve.

Two carnival locations will be available at Pumpkin Fest, one for teens and another for children. For a $25 special, attendees can embrace the carnivals at a reasonable cost.

Other activities include the annual Sycamore Chamber 10,000 Meter Road Run and a pie eating contest put on by the Sycamore Kiwanis Club as well as various other activities which can be found on the Pumpkin Fest website.

“[Attendees will] have a good time,” Desch said. “Some good laughs and you get to see how friendly people are and can be.”