Collector Pumpkin Festival
As if a ritual, the people of Collector gather on the first Sunday of every May to celebrate the glory of the humble pumpkin. The Collector Village Pumpkin Festival is an annual event which draws thousands of people to the small country town to pay homage to the staple winter vegetable. Even though Collector is a good 45 minute drive from Canberra, many from the Capital make the trek each year – myself being one of them.
Now in it’s 13th year running, the event has always gone ahead rain, hail or shine and this year’s festival was no different. A heavy rainfall the night before almost put the celebration in jeopardy, but the pumpkin fanatics could not be dismayed and announced that the event would continue as planned.
Heading into Collector the highway was backed up for several kilometers before the turn-off for the country town, but the wait to drive in was well worth it. The town has a rural charm and even though the parking situation is a shambles, the long walk towards the festival is a pleasant one. Cows moo at us from their fences as we follow the long line of people to the entrance.
The first thing we see as we go in are vendors with trailers full of pumpkins and they have the lot! Butternut squash, Kent or Jap pumpkin, Queensland Blue and Golden Nugget by the trailer-load. There’s people bustling around everywhere, haggling for pumpkins larger than the children playing in the mud at their feet and soaking up the atmosphere of the festival.
Walking along we see stalls selling everything from flowers and handmade cards to Pumpkin Festival official merchandise baby onesies. Food options however are few and far between and the lines for all of them are painfully long.
We decide to stick it out for a slice of Big Mama’s pumpkin pie. Nearly at the front of the line, Big Mama puts up a heartbreaking sign reading ‘pie sold out’. On the verge of tears over the lack of pumpkin pie, we stumble through the market stalls in a desperate search. At the very end of the stalls, tucked away near the exit is a baker selling his pumpkin goods. I finally get to try a pumpkin pie and am not let down in the slightest.
The Pumpkin Festival delivers in spades with fun activities scheduled throughout the day. There’s scarecrow building, pumpkin rolling races, a hay bale maze and rock-climbing for the kids just to name a few, not including marveling at the decorated and oversized pumpkins fighting it out for first prize ribbons. The not-for-profit event raises funds for the community and helps to promote the rich history of the town to pumpkin devotees, old and new.
Images and words by Amy Sullivan.