Pumpkin Fest unifies Sycamore community


The Darth Vader carved pumpkin display won the President’s Award, the highest ranking award at the 54th Annual Pumpkin Festival on Thursday.

By Jessica Plessner

DeKalb | More than 1,100 people entered the 54th annual Pumpkin Fest competition this weekend.

Community members, business owners and local organizations were able to submit works of art using pumpkins and other craft products, which were displayed at the Sycamore Library. The festival included a pumpkin celebration, a kiddie carnival and a parade.

Tom Moline, a 65-year-old Lions Club member and 40-year Sycamore community member, said he has attended every Pumpkin Festival since it’s creation in 1965 and has watched the festival grow tremendously in size.

“We wouldn’t have a festival if it weren’t for the kids decorating these pumpkins.” Moline said. “The pumpkin festival has brought our community together for years. Each year we have about 100,000 people who travel from not only local communities, but all around just to attend the pumpkin festival.”

Wally Thurow, who was known as “Mr.Pumpkin,” began what is now known as Sycamore’s Pumpkin Fest. Thurow decorated a few pumpkins and displayed them on his front lawn in hopes to turn Halloween into a fun and creative celebration. Pumpkin Fest became an official celebration six years later with the help of the Sycamore Lions Club.

Crowds lined up from corner to corner as they waited patiently to get a glimpse at the many differently styled pumpkins.

“I have been coming to the pumpkin festival and pumpkin celebration for 40 years. I used to bring my kids. Now I bring my grandkids, and I’m sure they will eventually bring their kids too,” said Cheryl Hamilton, 58, of Sycamore.

Some attendees for Pumpkin Fest have made the celebration a part of their family traditions.

“Trick or treating in downtown Sycamore and making my pumpkin for the contest every year is my favorite part of coming.” said Austin Berringer, a 5-year-old Sycamore native who spent his birthday at the celebration.

Austin’s mother, Karen Berringer, 34-year-old resident of Sycamore said her family gets together with other families every year to make pumpkins at the festival.

I’ve been coming since ‘05 and my kids and I have never been disappointed,” Karen said.

In addition to the many festive activities available, the Lions Club provided homemade pumpkin pie, apple cider and hot cocoa.