PUMPKINTOWN — Thousands of people descended into Northern Pickens for the 38th annual Pumpkin Festival on Saturday.
“I think everything worked out just right for this to happen this way,” said one volunteer who was manning the shuttle to take people back and forth from their cars parked out on Route 8. “The Clemson game was bumped to last night, Fall for Greenville got pushed to next weekend and there’s a lot of people up here from the Lowcountry getting away from (Hurricane) Matthew.
“This is the most people I’ve ever seen here,” he said. “And I’ve been doing this for several years now.”
Last year’s rain storms kept many of the festival’s regular attendees at home, but according to vendor April Machinolle, this year, storms had the opposite effect.
“We came last night to set up and we got rained on and I thought ‘Oh, no, It’s going to be just like last year,’ but I was wrong. Last year was a soupy, muddy mess. But today? The weather has cleared up beautifully and — I don’t know how they found us — but there’s been quite a few people who are up here staying with family or whatever from the Charleston area.
“I guess coming out to a festival is a better way to pass the time than sitting around being worried about your house,” she said.
Visitors to the festival were parking over a mile away from the Oolenoy community building and — if they didn’t fell like waiting on a shuttle — were streaming up and down both sides of highway 8 and Dacusville highway. Traffic was jammed up in Pumpkintown as far off as Oolenoy Church Road as people tried to make their way in to take part in the fun.
Navigating the crowds through the winding footpaths and narrow bridges of the fairgrounds proved too tricky for some and many decided to create a “home base” on the lawns facing the stage where cloggers and musicians provided ample entertainment.
For those who brought their appetites, the array of food offered had something for even the pickiest eater.
“She won’t eat anything,” said Curtis Mooney of Dacusville about his six-year-old daughter, Addie. “But she’s on her second piece of chicken,” he chuckled.
“It’s really good.”
Pickens County emergency service teams on site for safety purposes couldn’t say exactly what this year’s attendance at the festival was, only that it was “certainly a lot of people.”
“You know how it is, it’s not Fall until you’ve been to Pumpkintown,” said Mooney. “Rain or shine, we would have come out. But I’m glad it was shine.”
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.