Picking a peck of pumpkins

Hartsburg braces for a swarm of pumpkin pickers at its 17th annual pumpkin festival this weekend.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007 | 5:48 p.m. CDT; updated 9:59 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

HARTSBURG — There’s only one way to get your hands on a Hartsburg pumpkin this year: Go there.

The summer drought is preventing the Hackman family from selling its pumpkins to retailers. The family is saving its crop for the 17th annual Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival this weekend.


WHAT: Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday WHERE: Hartsburg in southern Boone County

Saturday schedule

9:30 a.m. Parade line up in downtown Hartsburg 9:45 a.m. Crowning of the pumpkin king, Fred Klippel 10 a.m. Parade 11 a.m. FoxxFire 1 p.m. Mick Byrd and Bonus Track 3 p.m. Road House Fiddle

Sunday schedule

11:30 a.m. Spiritual Strings 12:30 p.m. Out of the Valley 1:30 p.m. Praises to Him 2:30 p.m. Crossroads Group 3:30 p.m. Church of the Nation 4:30 p.m. Pie eating contest

The festival begins Saturday morning with the crowning of this year’s pumpkin king, Fred Klippel, for his service to the festival committee, Lion’s Club membership, work with local youths and church activities. After he receives an orange hat enscribed with “Pumpkin King” at 9:45 a.m., the parade will follow at 10.

Geanelle Cunningham, a member of the pumpkin festival committee, said more than 150 craft booths, 22 food booths and various snack booths are scheduled to appear. Demonstrations by a corn shredder, blacksmith and basket weaver will be showcased. The Hackman family, known for its large pumpkin crop and apple butter, will be selling a variety of pumpkins and was still bringing them in from the fields Tuesday afternoon.

Although the drought cut the family’s usual crop in half, Jo Hackman said there will still be plenty for sale.

“Usually we overshoot when we sow the pumpkin seeds,” Hackman said, noting that the Missouri River bottomland yields an average of 1,000 pumpkins per acre.

Pumpkin prices range from 35 cents to $30, depending on weight. “We have the big ones that weigh 200 pounds,” Hackman said.

Festival goers are advised to seek alternative routes to Hartsburg, given the difficulty of accommodating the thousands of guests on the two-lane blacktop that leads into town.

Cunningham said in past years, the two-day festival has had as many as 45,000 visitors. “If everyone came down Route A, they would never get here,” Cunningham said.

Ashland police will be on hand to direct traffic and help the Boone County Sheriff’s Department, which is handling security, Ashland Police Chief Scott Robbins said.

“We do experience a big influx of people passing through Ashland, but generally we’re problem free except for the usual parking violations,” Robbins said.

Robbins’ regular scheduled staff of one officer during the day and a few at night isn’t expected to change for the festival.

“It’s more of a heightened sense of alertness because there’s a lot of strangers going through town,” he said.

The Sheriff’s Department is handling parking, traffic control and “making sure everyone is having a good time while obeying the peace,” Capt. Gary German said.

“We should have 20 to 24 people out there this weekend,” German said, which includes 10 Explorers. Explorers are youths between the ages of 14 to 21 interested in law enforcement who have gone through training to help the department with special events.

German says the weather is the biggest factor in how the festival turns out.

“It usually goes smoothly, but it can get a little out of hand if there’s bad weather,” German said. “But for the most part, it’s a good event.”

The latest forecast calls for sunny skies and highs in the upper 60s.

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