28th Annual Allardt Great Pumpkin Festival and Weigh-off Set for Oct. 5
By Sandra Turner
It’s pumpkin time again in Allardt, Tennessee. Somewhere a giant sprawls contented in the patch, coddled and gorged, gaining 20 pounds or more every day. Patiently he waits to mount the scales for his moment of glory at Allardt’s Saturday, Oct. 5 weigh-off. Will he be the long awaited 2,000 pounder? Maybe.
Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia state records have been broken in previous years at the Allardt GPC weigh-off for both giant pumpkins and green squash. Massive watermelons brought by world record holder Chris Kent of Sevierville have been weighed in Allardt as well. The 2018 big pumpkin winner was John Van Hook of Somerset, KY, with his 1,293 pound entry. In 2017 John and James Van Hook broke the Allardt weigh-off record as well as the state of Kentucky record with their 1,594 pound pumpkin.
Prizes of $1000, $600, and $400 will go to the top pumpkin, watermelon, and green squash respectively, with lesser amount for 2nd through 5th place winners. An assortment of corn stalks, potatoes, tomatoes, sunflowers and other entries will compete for recognition in addition to the giant vegetables. The weigh-off at the Sandy’s Diner building is set for 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. (Central Time). Register your entries there from 8 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. John Gunter, Fentress County UT Agriculture Agent, is this event’s site coordinator, and Dwight Dixon, USDA Fentress County Soil Conservation District Conservationist, will again serve as master of ceremonies.
Thousands of festival goers will flock to this favorite fall event, drawn by giant vegetables, plus a spectacular region-wide auto show, food and craft vendors in Bruno Gernt Park, live entertainment on-stage at City Hall, a Pumpkin Run, motorcycle and tractor shows, a parade at 3 p.m. (Central), and a children’s costume contest (10 a.m.). Pooch Parade, a dog costume contest and this year’s new event, will present at 4:30 p.m. as the final onstage program, sponsored by Best Friends Sanctuary.
A pre-festival Great Pumpkin Beauty Pageant sponsored by Clarkrange Drug Center is set for Sept. 28 in Jamestown. See more information about entries and time schedules at the Allardt Pumpkin Festival Facebook page or allardtpumpkinfestival.com.
Pumpkin Festival Chairman Cathy Jeffers will officially open the festival at 10 a.m. (Central) October 5 at Allardt City Hall with introductions of the 2019 Festival King and Queen and pageant winners from the September 28 event. A costume contest sponsored by Progressive Savings Bank for children up to age 12 will follow. Register for the contest beside the stage at 9:30 a.m.
Live music and entertainment on stage at City Hall starts at 12:30 p.m. to run until the 3 p.m. parade. Singers and musicians resume following the parade at 3:45 p.m. Headlining the event will be The Lovers from NBC’s show “The Voice” with performances also by musical groups, Southern Comfort and Higher Ground. William Bilbrey (Millenium Sound) is entertainment coordinator.
Stephen Williams, assisted by the York Institute Cheerleaders, spearheads the Clyde and Zelia Stephens Memorial Auto Show, sponsored by O’Reilly Auto Parts. Register your entry from 8 a.m. until noon at the 4-way stop in Allardt. Entries can expect lots of prizes, awards, and cash giveaways.
The Motorcycle Show, coordinated by J.J. Johnson and sponsored by Micro Metals Inc.,
will also present trophies and prizes. Antique tractor exhibitors will gather near the auto show and participate along with autos and motorcycles in the 3 p.m. parade. Dustin Garrett coordinates the tractor show, sponsored by Twin Lakes Lawn & Tractor, Cookeville, and Garrett Tractor Repair and Restoration, Jamestown.
Runners start off the day at 7 a.m. (Central) at Allardt School for the annual Pumpkin Run, a qualifying race this year. There are 10k, 5k, and 3k runs and a one-mile Fun Run. Pick up an entry form at Hall Family Pharmacy, event sponsor in Jamestown. You may also register the morning of the run. A portion of the proceeds will go to benefit to benefit the Kirby Johnson Ballpark and Fentress County Youth Sports.
Quality Private Care is also sponsoring this event.
The Pumpkin Festival Parade, a highlight of the day, will step off at 3 p.m. led by the winning giant pumpkin and the Festival King and Queen. Crystal Tompkins is parade chairman.
For the best festival food in the Southeast make your way to the Bruno Gernt Park and sample the highly sought pumpkin rolls, fried pies, fried Oreos, pumpkin and nut breads, rolled ice cream, and the usual funnel cakes and specialty popcorn. There is more substantial fare as well – tasty barbecue at the Allardt Fire Hall, plus hamburgers, hot dogs, pinto beans and corn bread, and barbecue from vendors in the park.
Shop for festival t-shirts at the Information Booth #4 in the park. Scores of vendors will offer crafts and decorative items, including handmade wreaths, quilts, afghans, Christmas decorations, wood crafts, artwork, jewelry, purses, and numerous other items. Vendor park sponsors are Micro Metals, Inc. and Top of the Hill Properties. Cathy Jeffers is coordinator.
This event is totally free to attend and there is no charge for parking in designated parking areas.
For more information on events and times, see the Allardt Pumpkin Festival Facebook page or AllardtPumpkinFestival.com or the Fentress Courier for a full event schedule.