DUNDEE — What started as a giant pumpkin weigh-in 23 years ago on Harnica Kids Pumpkin Farms has grown into a wallop of a fall festival.
Pumpkin Palooza is on Saturday, Oct. 1, and promises a jam-packed day of free and fun activities for the whole family.
The Downtown Development Authority took the event over from John Harnica, who retired from hosting the event, five years ago.
“Before we took it over, it was in Dundee. We decided as a DDA we wanted to keep it here in Dundee. We went from just weighing pumpkins the first year to weighing the pumpkins and a vendor show and then a bigger vendor show, and some food trucks. Well, this year we have the pumpkin weigh-off. We have 75 vendors coming. We have food trucks. We have free pumpkin carving for kids while supplies last, bounce houses for the kids, no cost,” DDA secretary and Pumpkin Palooza chairperson Mary Schultz said.
The festival also has a petting zoo that is free and a pony ride which has a minimal cost. There’s a trick-or-treat stop for kids in the vendor show near the DDA Candy Stop banner. Kids should stop at the Kiwanis area first.
“At (the Kiwanis Club) station where they do games with the kids, they’re going to be passing out specific treat bags. So these kids can take these specific treat bags to a stop in the vendor show and they will get about a pound worth of trick-or-treat candy. So we have a quarter-ton of candy that we’re going to be passing out to these kids,” Schultz said.
Many new vendors will be attending this year along with some of the crowd’s original favorites at the vendor show from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be woodworking, jewelry, Scentsy, Salsa, Pampered Chef and soaps plus a whole lot more.
The weigh-off will be in the municipal parking lot at 350 W. Monroe St., along the north side of the River Raisin and across the river from the Old Mill Museum. Registration takes place from 9 to 10:30 a.m. with the weigh-off starting promptly at 11 a.m. Palooza goers can park off site and shuttle over.
For the heaviest pumpkin, first place is $3,000; second place, $1,500; third place, $750; fourth place, $500; fifth place, $200; sixth place, $100; seventh place, $75; eighth place, $75; ninth place, $50; and 10th place, $50.
They will be weighing much more than pumpkins this year. There will also be cash prizes for the heaviest squash, watermelon, field pumpkin, tomato, canteloupe, bushel gourd and marrow; the Howard Dill Award; longest long gourd; largest sunflower head; and tallest sunflower and corn.
For the adults this year, the World of Games will be bringing their axe-throwing trailer along with an expert to the event. Closed-toed shoes are required. There will also be a cornhole tournament. Signup starts at noon, and the tournament starts at 2 p.m.
New this year, the beer tent will now be open on Friday night along with the regular Saturday. Music will be nearby starting at 7 p.m. both nights with Flyte taking the stage Friday and with Not Fast Enuff front and center Saturday.
There will also be a number of cutouts where people can take some comical and fun selfies.
“We try to do everything here free minus one or two things and of course the beer can’t be free. There is a charge for the beer and the coolers,” Schultz said. “But most of the stuff is free, fun entertainment for families because when you get a family of four, five people they have to pick and choose what the kids can do. We try to make it free and fun for the kids to do stuff.”