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Sunday, October 10, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:22 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fall’s brilliance is in full force at Hartsburg’s 13th annual Pumpkin Festival.

Despite a slow start to the pumpkin crop earlier this year, Jo Hackman said the pumpkin yield has been very good. Hackman and her husband, Norlan, have produced about 60,000 pumpkins this year for the more than 40,000 people who will pass through the two-day festival, which runs through today.

Hackman said people from as far as Texas have come to buy her pumpkins.

The pumpkin festival includes about 200 vendors, food booths, apple-butter cooking and a variety of pumpkin activities for the whole family.

“If you can’t carry it, I’m not taking it home,” said the mother of one of those families, Liza Loughridge, to her children, ages 5, 3 and 1, as they hugged a 100-pound pumpkin Saturday.

Loughridge, of Columbia, has been bringing her family to Hartsburg for four years.

“This is our yearly event,” Loughridge said.

A sea of pumpkins isn’t the only thing changing the Columbia area from deep green to brilliant orange. Trees all over the area have begun to flaunt their autumn colors, and experts predict a colorful fall this year.

“We think it’s going to be an excellent year,” said Josh Sevens of the Missouri Department of Conservation. “The cool temperatures coming on early have caused a gradual color change.”


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