BRADFORD — The 2017 Bradford Pumpkin Show was held last week. The community festival, held in downtown Bradford, featured daily parades, fair-style food and carnival games, rides, and a number of other activities.
This year’s festivities kicked off Sunday, October 8, with events including a property decorating contest, then resumed Tuesday evening with the Pumpkin Diaper Derby and Pumpkin Prince and Princess contest.
Other events throughout the week included the Little Miss and Little Master Pumpkin contest; the crowning of Miss Pumpkin Queen; a Kiddie Tractor Pull; a cheerleading competition; and live entertainment by artists such as Chapter Seven, BioGenesis, and Jeff Hittle.
The Pumpkin Show has been a tradition in Bradford going back at least 50 years. According to Arthur Johnson, a concession worker based out of Cambridge, Indiana, the presence of older residents who have enjoyed the festival throughout their lives is part of what makes the event so unique.
“The elderly are what makes a carnival, because the elderly are what made this town,” said Johnson. “They were here first. Our grandparents were here before we were.”
Bradford resident Beener Wood also spoke about the long history of the Pumpkin Show.
“When you live here and went to school here, it’s tradition. It’s been going on since before any of our time,” said Wood, who hosted a reunion of some of his classmates from the Bradford High School Class of 1978 during the festival’s closing weekend. “It brings people in from all over.”
One of Wood’s former classmates, Scott Floyd, brought up another long Bradford tradition, the show’s signature throwing of confetti.
“Walk through downtown around 10 p.m. and it’ll be a foot deep,” said Floyd. “It’ll look like snow.”
“You’ll find that stuff laying around a year from now,” Wood agreed.
In addition to rides, concessions, and other activities arranged by the Bradford Pumpkin Show Association, other local community groups and businesses took part in the event as well. The Refinery, a coffee shop run by the local Brethren church, is normally open for a few hours on Friday and Sunday mornings; they were open into the evening every day throughout the Pumpkin Show, however.
The Bradford Community Club, meanwhile, served food and drinks at their clubhouse throughout the week, as well as building a float that took home first prize in Saturday’s contest. The club, a nonprofit group run by volunteers, took home the property decorating prize as well.
“What we make during the pumpkin show is what pays our bills for the rest of the year,” said Rachel Dunlevy, president of the Bradford Community Club.
The club also offered live music by the local band Strategy, two of whose members are Bradford natives. One of those members is Lee Harmon, police chief of nearby Covington, Ohio, in Miami County.
Dunlevy believes that while the Pumpkin Show this year has been a success, there are still areas for improvement.
“We’re striving to bring it back to what it used to be,” Dunlevy said of the pumpkin show. “We want more community involvement. The community – all the businesses in town, the pee-wee association – they all used to be involved, and there’s hardly any of that anymore.”