The leaves are slowly changing colors, fall is in the air, and Elkin’s annual pumpkin festival had a wonderful turnout Saturday afternoon as people from all around Surry County and the surrounding areas came for a day of festivities and to explore the artisans and craftsmen of North Carolina.
Many local residents and people from out of town came out with friends and family to celebrate the beginning of the fall season and explore the arts and craftsmen of the Yadkin Valley.
“It’s great,” said Nancy Ball. “Everybody’s having a good time and it’s a beautiful day. Everybody can just come out and enjoy each other. I have my grandchildren with me today. It’s just a fun morning. Everybody is smiling.”
“I’m blessed,” said Brian Jordan. “This is my first time. I have family visiting today so we decided it would be a good event to come out to. My favorite thing has to be the big pumpkins. They were huge.”
“I like it because it’s small town, friendly, and down to earth,” said Anita Levens who was with husband David from Winston-Salem. “My husband, of course, loves the food and my son loves the blow-up inflatable fun houses.”
A huge range of skilled craftsmen and women set up shop along Main Street, including quilters, potters, woodcutters, artists, weavers, candle-makers, soap makers, and many more.
Bradley Byrd promoted his soap stone art and paintings.
“I have been working on soap stone art since I was 18,” said Byrd. “I missed the past couple of festivals, but I try to get here every year. I like the crowd and showing my stuff to people. They enjoy looking at it even if they are not buying. I enjoy talking to people and seeing their reactions to my work.”
Marie Sagraves decided to promote her new business for the first time this year at the Yadkin Valley Pumpkin Festival.
“This is my first year,” said Sagraves with Marie’s Mountain Soaps. “I started making soap August of last year. Some of my friends I was giving it to kept saying I needed to be selling this stuff and so I started selling at the farmers markets four times a week. I had great success and I decided to give the festival a shot this year. It’s been a successful day this year at the market. The people helping set up have been very successful. I’m looking forward to coming back next year.”
Owners of local farms and ranches also came out to promote their products, including Joe and Barbara, owners of To His Glory Alpaca Farm in Wilkesboro.
“Last year was our first year,” said Barbara. “It was raining, but we came anyway. The weather has been a lot better this year. We sold two pocketbooks right away at the start of the festival. We have socks, toys, children’s hats, hot plates, scarfs, socks, vests, all kinds of thing. We’re also looking into going to the Historical Society bazaar later this year. It’s great finding out about all these festivals.”
Local churches and organizations also ventured out for the day including Abstract Church in Elkin.
“Our message is community-based and that’s why we’re out here today,” said Alan Parsons, lead pastor at Abstract Church. “We just love spreading the love of Christ to people, whether it’s by giving out water, spraying hair, or giving kids temporary tattoos. It’s all about letting people know that they are loved.”
Craftsmen weren’t the only ones showing off their products. Gurney and Pam Royall came out to promote their many types of fruit butter.
“Any kind of fruit, if you’re patient enough, can be worked into a butter,” said Pam Royall. “We’ve made apple butter in our family for years. We’ve come to the festival every year. Teresa Howell recruited us from the Mount Airy Autumn Leaves Festival 19 years ago. I still remember the first festival for us, it was blowing snowflakes. It’s just the start of the fall festivals and we enjoy the small town feel of Elkin. I especially love the old-fashioned spices down here.”
About 15 farmers showed up for the pumpkin weigh-off Saturday morning.
Adam Hartman and his son Gavin from Lexington both entered pumpkins into the weigh-off, and Gavin won best looking pumpkin of the year.
“This is our sixth year attending,” said Adam Hartman with his wife Lisa. “It’s an obsession for us. My pumpkin was 605 pounds, and my son’s was 503. He got sixth place overall and I got fourth. We love to spend the weekend out here, visiting all the wineries, and just enjoying the town.”
“I feel good about today,” said Gavin Hartman. “I love seeing all the pumpkins.”
Artie Philip from Monroe won first place pumpkin which weighed more than 700 pounds, and Todd Dawson won best watermelon.
“It was a close competition this year,” said Sam Lovelace, who was in charge of this year’s weigh-offs. “We had about 15 pumpkins today. Pumpkins need to be sound for the competition. No major cracks or decay going into the cavity.”
The pumpkin festival has always been a great day for bringing people out and about to enjoy the communities and the surrounding artists and culture that Elkin has to offer.
“For me, I love the people,” said Parsons. “The festival draws in so many people we don’t get to see all the time. It’s also the surrounding community, not just Elkin. This is our third year doing the pumpkin festival and it’s awesome. We want to do things that support our town.”
Troy Brooks may be reached at 336-258-4058.