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October 13, 2011

Conneaut Lake Fall Pumpkin Fest about to 'drop'

CONNEAUT LAKE — When it comes to the annual autumnal celebration that is the Conneaut Lake Fall Pumpkin Fest, Georgie Griggs said the Giant Pumpkin Drop is, of course, “a big thing” — in more ways than one.

There are the ‘Giant’ pumpkins — one for each drop — weighing in at around a half-ton each. There’s the crane-operated ‘Drop’ itself, which untethers said pumpkins from high above with enough gravitational force to crush a vehicle (that’s sort of the point). And then there’s the size of the crowds that gather for that spectacle, which is just one of the highlights of a three-day festival that last year brought upwards of 35,000 people to Conneaut Lake Park.

“It just gets bigger and bigger every year,” said Griggs (who serves as co-chair of this year’s Pumpkin Fest committee), and with everything that’s lined up for the festival Friday through Sunday, she said organizers are expecting this year — Pumpkin Fest’s 21st — to be no exception to that trend.

“There’s a lot going on,” said Griggs, from food, crafts and art vendors to historical re-enactors, performers and a variety of live entertainment, including the first-ever Friday night Bluegrass Benefit to raise funds for the Hospice House of Crawford County.

 “We started out to do a lot of things for charity” since the beginning, Griggs said, and the scope of that aim has also expanded as the Pumpkin Fest has grown over the years.

Traditional crowd-favorites abound too, with events like the annual Pumpkin Fest Parade in downtown Conneaut Lake on Saturday — this year’s features around 80 units — as well as pumpkin pie and pizza eating contests, costume contests for children, adults and even pets and a popular celebrity cow milking competition.

Conneaut Lake Park’s rides will also be open throughout the weekend as part of Pumpkin Fest, said Griggs.

Organizers have said the idea of having Pumpkin Fest was first suggested over 20 years ago by members of the Conneaut Lake Area Business Association as a way to further promote the area, and to give area businesses and hotels one more major event weekend before the start of the winter season.

It’s “to have more people come back into the (Conneaut Lake) area” for some more fun following the main tourist season, said Griggs. “We hope the kids (and their families) come, and we’ll have a good time.”

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