BY FRED LAWRENCE
The Hants Journal
The Town of Windsor was bustling during the Annual Valley Pumpkin Festival.
The event everyone was waiting for brought approximately 10,000 spectators to the waterfront to watch brave souls paddle giant pumpkins across Lake Pisiquid. Organizer Van Essa Roberts said this year “was the biggest festival ever.” There were 54 entries for pumpkin racing and 49 of them were paddle-powered; a record number of entries to-date.
Leo Swinamer from New Ross was favoured to win and he didn’t disappoint, beating the competition easily with his vessel,‘Pretty Girl’. He arrived at the dock ahead of the others for the seventh year in a row with an official time of 10:27.
Second and third place went to Logan Livingston of Kingsport, 10:53, and Melissa Lunn of Gypsum Mines, 11:35, respectively. Mr. Pumpkin Head, a.k.a., Chip Peterson, another crowd favorite, came in fifth. Peterson has participated in the event since the first year it was held and has at least one victory under his belt.
The motorized category was cinched by Dawson Sheehy with his PVC (Personal Vegetable Craft) ‘Orr on the water’, followed closely by Danny Rippey, a huge crowd favourite, of Windsor with ‘Toro’, another of Rippey’s creations.
The Children’s Wish Parade was by far the largest of the year, with visitors lining the streets from the Community Centre to the intersection at Water and Gerrish Streets. “The waterfront was packed from end-to-end because directly after the parade people flocked to the water to get a good view of the race, and the crowd really was amazing. I was told it was the most people we’ve had yet, so it’s growing each year,” Roberts said.
Brison goes under
Kings-Hants MP Scott Brison attempted to paddle his giant vessel across the water, but ran into trouble at the Falmouth side and took on water, going under in the process. Taking it in stride, Brison went quickly to the waterfront side and helped other volunteers to get racers safely on their feet and away from the water.
Roberts said volunteers worked with contractor Ernie Smith to remove pumpkins from the water and take them for composting. Smith donated his truck and services for the event.
Although rain was in the forecast, the clouds held off long enough for the race to continue. “We got some rain and even some hail,” Roberts said, “but just as the race was about to begin, a huge rainbow came into view and the rain stopped.”
Roberts said she took that as a good sign and noted that after the race, during clean-up, another rainbow could be seen.
Media from ‘all over’
Roberts said the event draws more media attention every year. “From the local coverage given to us by The Hants Journal, this has spiraled now so that there are news crews from all over the place coming here to make film and use for various television programs.” Roberts said two former members of the Boston Bruins, Cleon Daslakis and Bob Sweeney, were on hand to promote the event for the New England Sports Network. Bob Blumer from the Food Network was on hand, along with members of the Canadian Press and even a representative from the Wall Street Journal was spotted cruising in a motorboat watching and filming the event.
RCMP and fire crews from Hantsport and Windsor were on hand for everything from traffic to crowd control. Despite the large turnout, no injuries were reported and RCMP indicated to Roberts the event was ‘crime-free’ as well. “It was a lot of work, but it paid off and everything ran very smoothly, thanks to all of the help from everyone involved,” Roberts said. “I can’t wait until next year."
BY FRED LAWRENCE