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Evans City PumpkinFest returns for second year

Akiko Kokyama, left, helps her son, Soi, carve a pumpkin at last year’s PumpkinFest in Evans City. Butler Eagle file photo

The start of September means the start of autumn, and nothing says autumn quite like pumpkins. For the second year in a row, Evans City will ring in the fall with the PumpkinFest event, which will take over the borough Sept. 23 to 24.

Evans City’s PumpkinFest was the brainchild of Molly DiFiore, vice president of the Evans City Events Committee. The rest of the time, DiFiore runs the web design firm Ordinary Pixels, which is responsible for the recently-redesigned website for Evans City itself. She parlayed her experience in marketing and graphic design into PumpkinFest.

“I’m in charge of all the marketing, graphic design, publicity and sponsorships,” DiFiore said.

The first PumpkinFest came into existence last fall as a replacement for Evans City’s old Oktoberfest event, after the organizers of Oktoberfest decided to step down and stop running it.

“We wanted to still give Evans City a fall festival, a place for an event that the town could really come and celebrate fall together,” DiFiore said.

The first PumpkinFest turned out to be a success far beyond what DiFiore imagined. People flocked to the event from as far away as Monroeville and Erie.

“Last year was our first year, so we were kinda trying out some things,” DiFiore said. “Last year was 10 times more successful than we expected, so we tried to make this year bigger.”

Due to the popularity of last year’s inaugural PumpkinFest, vendors have flocked to the second annual event, filling up nearly all available spaces. As of this Thursday, 16 days before PumpkinFest opens, all spaces for craft vendors have already been filled, and there are only a few spaces left for food vendors.

DiFiore estimates that there will be over 80 craft vendors at PumpkinFest, selling “everything from candles to wreaths to coffee cups.”

On Sept. 23 at 7 a.m., one of the first events will be the fireman’s pancake breakfast at the Evans City Fire Department, followed by a rescue demonstration.

If there’s an activity with the word “pumpkin” attached to it, there’s a safe bet it’ll be at this year’s PumpkinFest. This includes a pumpkin pie-eating contest, a pumpkin decorating contest and demonstrations from a pumpkin carver.

Among the most popular offerings last year was the pumpkin carriage ride. This year, PumpkinFest will offer carriage rides over both days, instead of just one.

“We’re trying to keep everything as low-cost as possible for the event,” DiFiore said. “Almost everything is free to do.”

PumpkinFest will be spread out over East Main Street, North Jackson Street, Wahl Avenue and North Washington Street in Evans City. On Sept. 24, the party will extend to South Jackson Street, which will hold a car cruise.

Main Street will remain open to vehicular traffic while PumpkinFest is on, while North Jackson Street and Wahl Avenue will be closed. South Jackson also will be closed on Sept. 24 for the car cruise.

Christopher Adams, of Slippery Rock, plays ringtoss with his brother, Elliot, in the kids games area at last year’s PumpkinFest in Evans City. Butler Eagle file photo

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