A poetic history of the first Tuscola County Pumpkin Festival
The First Tuscola Pumpkin Festival was not precisely held as it is today at the commencement of the first full weekend in the eighth month from March or in October.
The first pumpkin celebration took place forty-one years ago and was held in the days that were colder near the close of the month of October!
The first festival occurred from Thursday, the 22nd, to Sunday, the 25th, in October of 1981.
The final event of that festivity, the “Big Orange Parade,” took place on that Sunday—with its pomp and pageantry, it began at West Frank Street.
That first grand parade ended at the intersection of Quinn Street and Millwood Street.
The Color Guard of the Veterans of Foreign Wars led the march and stirred excitement in the crowd as they walked at the front of the procession.
Other heroes in the parade came next, firefighters and officers in law enforcement.
They were followed by three local high school bands and the Shrine Band, by floats and commercial exhibits, and by festival royalty—children in gaily adorned costumes gamboled, danced, hopped, skipped, and even scuffed in the procession in numbers galore.
Downtown Businesses put on celebratory sales that supported the festival —they gave out discounts and bargains at almost every store.
Up to this date, this was Tuscola County’s largest event.
A potion or spirited concoction, an orange-colored drink, called the “Bumpkin Pumpkin,” the Caro Golf Course introduced to bring out a bit of comedy and poetry in this brand-new celebration.
Tuscola Pumpkin Festival goers also delighted in an event called the “Pie in the Eye.”
The contest brought in a crowd of spectators and contestants who wanted to win the prize and eat a face full of pumpkin pie.
The “Pie in the Eye” contest was sponsored by the local radio station.
The Pumpkin Pies—open-topped pastries or tarts—were made by Stanley’s Bakery.
All around the Business District and at the Courthouse Lawn, tents held representatives of big and small business owners and crafters—talk of the present and future harvest, the Autumnal Bounty of Tuscola County, was a common point of serious talking activity.
Both Sherman and Lincoln Streets were blocked off or closed from State Street to the alleyways.
Each street had a large tent where food vendors or local clubs had concessions—people sat at tables and benches—stories about the good times of the past and current and the future were recounted and composed.
The big events that everyone wanted to see and talk about were at the Tuscola County Courthouse Lawn.
This often was the first and last place people would walk to or go.
The pumpkin festival was Tuscola County’s largest public gathering, its greatest feast, and its biggest show.
Many of the competitions and events are still celebrated—honor is given to those who grow the biggest pumpkins and to those who make the most beautifully or creatively, designed, and adorned pumpkins—the pumpkins by the age of the grower or crafter are displayed at the Courthouse Lawn—toward that location everyone is enticed or drawn!
The Pumpkin Festival is a great diversion, a time of fun for everyone—whether they reside in or visit Tuscola County, everyone enjoys the gaiety of the Pumpkin Festival—looking over the entire year, the crowd of people who attend the festival, particularly the parade, in numbers simply is the year’s highest.
The Pumpkin Festival is an occasion of pomp and pageantry—it is an exposition of the local prosperity and the increase in the harvest-related treasury—the Pumpkin Festival held at the commencement of autumn is the “time of the increase”—the image of the Tuscola Pumpkin is an icon, a symbol, of that rise in the local pleasure, wealth, and ease—the Tuscola Pumpkin is a symbol of the Momentum of Autumn, the Autumnal Bounty of Tuscola County, and the Greatest Harvest.
The Great Pumpkin Archive
By the Caro Roadhouse Museum & Historical Society
The Caro Roadhouse Museum & Historical Society is occupied.
During the Pumpkin Festival, the Museum presents a collection of many, many items to show.
“History of the Pumpkin Festival” is the title of the show.
The Museum offers this display with elegant descriptions and in this presentation, takes great honor and pride.
During the fall season, the Museum is gathering, collecting, or harvesting your beautiful thoughts and compositions in legible, enduring, hand-written notes.
During this harvest season, the Museum wishes to tabulate your best Pumpkin Festival storylines and quotes.
To add to the great display of detailed Pumpkin Festival history, the Museum likewise desires to copy or keep your Pumpkin Festival photographs in the public archive.
Both your brief stories and photographic images, the Museum will put in the archive.
Visit the Tuscola Museum.
It will be public on October 7th & 8th from 10 to 4 PM.
Go to 235 E. Congress St. and stop where the sign says, “MUSEUM OPEN.”
Remember, a story is best when it is spoken and written.
When is the Pumpkin Festival
The 2022 Pumpkin Festival events start on Thursday, October 6th, through Sunday, October 9th. The Pumpkin Festival parade begins on Sunday at 1:30 pm on Main Street. This Michigan Pumpkin Festival is noted as one of the best fall festivals in Michigan by Grand Rapids Kids.
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