5 Things You May Not Know About Stillwater HarvestFest

Stillwater HarvestFest is happening this weekend in Lowell Park.

Head downtown to check out huge gourds, the pumpkin regatta, a kids costume parade, The Scarecrow Contest and the giant pumpkin drop. There will also be live music, pie-eating contest, chili cook-off, sidewalk sales, beer and wine tasting, and more.

Here’s a full schedule of events.

The giant pumpkin weigh-off is Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The gourd drop happens at 5 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. The Pumpkin Regatta is at 2 p.m., Sunday.

Voting for the 3rd annual scarecrow contest is underway now.

 

I recently caught up with Stillwater HarvestFest organizer Cassie McLemore and asked her these 5 questions about this weekend’s event:

How did Harvest Fest first come about? 

Two guys and a passion for giant pumpkins decided in 2005 that Stillwater was the perfect place to host a giant pumpkin weigh-off. Nine years and hundreds of giant pumpkins later, we’ve gone from a humble low key weigh-off behind a local greenhouse (Country Sun Farms) to the world’s greatest event.

HarvestFest originated with the growers getting together at Country Sun Farm, it then moved to Lily Lake Park, before the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce got involved for a few years and brought it to downtown Stillwater. In 2010 the Main Street Stillwater IBA took it on and we had 80 degree weather and a World Record. That group then transferred it to Summer Tuesdays, which has operated it from 2011 until present.

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Where did the idea of the Pumpkin Regatta come from? How has the event evolved over the years? What can we expect this year?

For as long as giant pumpkins have been grown, they’ve also been floated. We’ve borrowed the idea from other events across the country who host similar regattas…but none on a national scenic waterway!

John Branch, a giant pumpkin grower and one of the original coordinators saw a Regatta out East, and thought it would a great idea since the event takes place along the St. Croix River. We have gotten better at transforming the pumpkins into boats, that actually float upright and that people can paddle.

This year we have an open invitation for people to “Battle to Paddle” in the Regatta. Teams will compete in yard games with the top four teams then competing in the Regatta. There is still room for teams of 2-4 players to participate with a $200 entry fee per team.

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Likewise, where did the giant pumpkin drop idea come from? How has that evolved?

We’re a bunch of thrill-driven adrenaline junkies and enjoy pushing the envelope when it comes to giant pumpkin creativity. Pumpkins have been dropped from high at events across the nation for years, but HarvestFest is the only location that has put “the drop” on steroids by releasing two giants simultaneously that crash down upon a third pumpkin waiting on the ground. *big splat*

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What are you hearing about the pumpkin weigh-off? Think we’ll see any records set this year? 

There will be records set. In fact, the rumor mill suggests records may be smashed. This will be an event for the books for sure. There’s a chance we could weigh a one-ton pumpkin. There’s a chance the average weight of our top 10 pumpkins may set a record for all-time high…giving Stillwater Harvest Fest the prestigious honor of No. 1 weigh-off site in the world as recognized by our governing body, the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth.

Finally, anything people should know about this year’s festival? 

We’ll be weighing pumpkins from the most accomplished growers in the Upper Midwest and expect growers from Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota and Iowa. Buzz regarding our event within the competitive giant pumpkin grower community has reached fever pitch. Growers from around the world will be watching closely to see what lands on the scale Saturday.

We are in need of financial support to keep this great event going.

Stillwater HarvestFest is organized by Summer Tuesdays, Inc, a 501-3c that does not receive any financial support from the city of Stillwater. In fact, the city charges us for the use of the park and parking lot, police, etc., resulting in one of our biggest invoices.

There is a reason why it has been passed on from one group to another and that is it’s a lot of work and the event costs a lot of money to put on. Any contribution is gladly accepted and we are always looking for sponsorship from businesses. You can easily contribute using our GoFundMe page.

We are still in need of a few volunteers as well.

You can go to our SignUpGenius page to sign up. We sincerely appreciate any help.

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