Fall festivals used to competing with Missouri football games

Monday, September 1, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Two of Boone County's biggest fall festivals will take place on football weekends this year, due in large part because they have been sticking to consistent schedules for decades.

The Heritage Festival always takes place on the third weekend in September, while the Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival occurs on the second weekend in October every year. Whether the dates fall on football weekends is luck of the draw.

In the past decade, the Heritage festival has competed with a Missouri football game four times.

"It's never been a problem," said Heritage Festival coordinator Karen Chandler about attendance.

The Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival, a family oriented preview to Halloween, is being held on Oct. 11 and 12 during Missouri's home game against Georgia. During its highest year of attendance, the pumpkin festival attracted around 50,000 people.

The Heritage Festival, with traditional crafts and entertainment, will take place Sept. 20 and 21 at Nifong Park. That weekend, Missouri plays Indiana in Columbia.

Chandler said the festival date intentionally remains consistent to avoid competition with other festivals in the area.

"You'll lose people if you change it," Chandler said. "Vendors and artists expect it to be the third weekend in September every year."

Changing the date would force festivalgoers, vendors, artists and performers to choose which event to attend, she said.

"What does impact us is the volunteers," Chandler said. "We use groups from the university, which means students, so we have to look a little more for volunteers."

Chandler said weather always affects attendance for the event. Last year, during a sunny and mild two days, between 15,000 and 20,000 people attended the Heritage Festival. 

Columbia's largest fall event, the Roots 'N' Blues 'N' BBQ Festival, collaborates every year with MU to dodge any overlap. The festival will be held from Sept. 26-28. That weekend, Missouri plays in Columbia, S.C.

Last year, around 25,000 people attended the festival from 36 states and six countries, Roots 'N' Blues 'N' BBQ festival president Betsy Farris said.

"We never plan on home games," she said. "We always look ahead. We actually already have the date (of the festival) for next year."

Supervising editor is Jeanne Abbott.

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