HARTSBURG — The gray gravel roads of Hartsburg matched the sky Saturday as rain drenched the opening day of the 16th annual Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival.
As visitors searched for parking among cornfields and tractors, approaching traffic came to a stand-still in the festival’s opening hours but had cleared by noon. Festival organizers hoped the thousands of visitors predicted were just holding off for Sunday, when temperatures are expected to reach the low 80s below a mostly sunny sky.
The unrelenting rain dampened booths and sellers, as display table legs and shelves sunk into the ground. Clad in ponchos and jeans soaked up to the knees, a few hundred visitors shuffled around Hartsburg, ignoring the puddles stretching across the gravel roads and seeming to accept the fate of inevitable wetness.
Ganelle Cunningham, a member of the festival planning committee, said it’s been about five years since they’ve experienced rain on opening day. The rainy weather is likely to “make for a giant, friendly turnout crowd” Sunday, Cunningham said.
“But we still have a big crowd of those who come out in the rain,” Cunningham said. “Those are the genuine festivalgoers.”
The Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival in southern Boone County draws thousands of visitors from around the state for the two-day festival. More than 150 crafts booths, 22 food booths and various demonstrations are scheduled, along with music performances throughout the day. It will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Rain also forced the cancellation of two events in Columbia scheduled for Saturday. The Hullabaloo for Art mural painting at the Heibel-March building has been rescheduled for 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Oct. 27. Organizations said the Hinkson Creek cleanup will not be rescheduled.