In early September, most pumpkins are ripe on the vine, a sign that it’s time for Morton to celebrate all things pumpkin at the village’s annual Pumpkin Festival. This year’s theme; Das Pumpkin.
Villagers voted for the German-style Das Pumpkin theme, and, as a result, fairgoers will experience traditional German food and entertainment throughout the festival.
The community picks the theme every year from a list of suggested themes was the top vote getter,” Morton Chamber of Commerce executive director, Leigh Ann Brown said. “We’ll have German food, decorations and entertainment.”
On the menu; brats, sauerkraut, pretzels with German mustard, big pickles and German Chocolate Pumpkin Cake. Entertainment acts include accordion players, folk dancers, and a performance by Die Spitzbaum, a five-piece German band from St. Louis.
The festival kicks off Saturday, Sept. 9 with The Pumpkin Tour, a 51-mile bike ride. The registration fee is $20, and the deadline for registration is Sept. 8. The ride is a self-start event, with check in between 7:30-10:30 a.m. All three routes, which include areas of Morton, East Peoria, Tremont and Mackinaw, begin and end at Morton Public Library,
The Pumpkin Open tennis tournament is also that morning and the next day, and the library will begin taking entries for the photography show that afternoon. Art show entries may be brought to the library Sunday, the same day as the Pumpkin Soapbox Derby.
Pumpkin decorating contest entries will be accepted Tuesday, and the pumpkin weigh off and Big Wheel race are that evening. The carnival Midway officially opens the next Wednesday, shortly before the 5 p.m. opening ceremony.
From Wednesday through the festival’s close at 9 p.m. Saturday, the events schedule becomes loaded with events and attractions; the Pumpkin Sweet Shoppe, Pumpkin Grille, Pumpkin Craft Faire. Competitions include the Libby’s Recipe Challenge, Pumpkin Idol, Jr., the Pumpkin Weigh Off and the Pumpkin Pie Eating Competition.
Last year, Joseph House won first place in the Pumpkin Weigh Off with a 965-pound pumpkin. Kiara Wolland took first place in the Pumpkin Idol, Jr. Competition and Clinton and Maria Leman won the Libby’s Recipe Challenge with their recipe for Spicy Pumpkin Pork Grilled Pizza.
Most winners take home Chamber Bucks, which can be spent at any of the Chamber’s retail and restaurant member businesses. Kids, Brown said, win carnival tickets.
This year event organizers will introduce the Pumpkin Festival’s new mascot, Libby. Named after the Nestle’s pumpkin canning factory, Libby’s, in Morton, the pumpkin-shaped mascot will join in both festival parades and pose for photos throughout the festival.
Phil Kuhl will be the 2017 Pumpkin Festival Parade Marshal. In 1979, he founded Kuhl Insurance in Morton, helped found the Morton Fine Arts Association and the Morton Community Foundation. Kuhl was also instrumental in bringing The Giving Tree Garden and Sculpture to downtown Morton.
“Serving others, I have discovered, is the key to living a full life,” Kuhl said at the July 27 Morton Rotary Club meeting. “I love the community and area in which we live. It has been great for our family and for our business. I also care very much about our future … I feel the need to ‘pay it forward’ to assure a quality place to live for future generations who will call this ‘home.'”
For more information on all of the 2017 Morton Pumpkin Festival events, including competition rules and entry deadlines, visit Morton Pumpkin Festival website.
— Morton celebrates all things pumpkin with German theme —-