Exploring Franklin Pumpkin Festival

By Dani Halliday, 2016

Funnel cake, pumpkin bread, fresh local honey, and frog legs were all available for purchasing and eating at the 20th Annual Franklin Pumpkin Festival. This festival is famous for the pumpkin roll, where residents and visitors buy a pumpkin to enter in a race to see what pumpkin can get down the hill in one piece the fastest.

There is so much to do during this festival. Various local organizations and businesses set up under tents lining the streets. People walk around with their children and dogs, both often dressed in costumes. Hot beverages are sold at the general store, which is where we stopped before venturing into the crowd. There were food trucks, local baked goods, and artisan dips and butters sold in various booths. One man was selling honey from his personal bees. Sam and Molly bought honey sticks and I decided to try a quick taste of the sourwood honey, which wasn’t actually sour. Local craftsmen displayed their wares in their tents. There were hand knit scarves, hand-made jewelry, pottery, paintings, and more.

Tents of local vendors line street during Franklin Pumpkin Festival.

Food and pumpkins were not the only attraction on the streets of Franklin on this day. There was plenty of entertainment available. Music blasted from speakers at the gazebo on the green. There were bouncy houses at one end and pony rides at the other. Molly and I debated asking for a ride (each pony could hold about 180 pounds) but two children were waiting, and we needed to look like adults. There was also a dog costume contest, where local pups dressed in their Halloween best to win a trophy. My favorite was the Golden Retriever dressed as a lion. There was also a dachshund in a hotdog costume, a tiny Chihuahua dressed as Woody from Toy Story, and a Pitbull mix dressed as a dinosaur.

The pumpkin eating contest was our last stop during the Franklin Pumpkin Festival. There were two heats: a kid’s heat and an adult heat. The announcer handed ponchos out to each contestant (for cleanliness) and they piled mounds of whipped cream on top of each pie. The contestants had only a minute to eat as much pie as possible and then the pies were weighed to see who ate the most. The winner of each heat won $20. During the kid’s heat, there was a tie! The announcer pulled another $20 out his own wallet so they both could get the prize.

The Pumpkin Festival was everything that we hoped for and more. We wished we could have stayed longer, but Highway 64 was calling and we had to head on to Highlands for lunch.