Pumpkin Soup, Bushrangers and Old fashion Fun.
While there was a taste of winter in the air it was the taste of Pumpkin Soup and Pumpkin Scones that was on the lips of the huge crowd that squashed into the village of Collector for the 13th annual Pumpkin Festival.
Held each year on the first Sunday in May, the festival continues to be a smash hit and despite the weather, almost thirteen thousand visitors flocked to Collector to see the giant pumpkins and enjoy pumpkin scones and a cup of hot pumpkin soup.
As always, the main interest is in who has grown the biggest pumpkin and this year the cross boarder rivalry continued as ACT grower Dereck Fortser claimed the prize with a 203 kg Atlantic Giant. Mr Forster first claimed the winners sash in 2012 with a 320 kg pumpkin but NSW growers have been on top of the podium ever since. “I love coming to the Pumpkin Festival and bringing the family along – the kids just love it and for me to win the prize for the biggest Pumpkin for a second time is a just fantastic,” Mr Fortser said.
The blustery autumn weather did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the younger visitors with the scarecrow building section a hive of activity and the hay bale maze quickly overrun with excited children.
Among the many free events at the festival this year, The Cobb & Co coach rides at the Collector Oval proved to be very popular. Hundreds of families took the opportunity to go for a lap around the old village cricket ground aboard the fully restored coach, complete with a giant “Gold Pumpkin” strapped to the roof top luggage rack! The highlight of the day came when actors from the Gold Trails Re-enactment Group rode in on their horses dressed as bushrangers and staged a dramatic hold-up of the “Stage Coach”. To the rescue came the Mounted Troopers in authentic 1860’s uniforms and quite a gun battle played out in front of the enthralled crowd before the bushrangers rode of at full gallop to the safety of the distant bush.
Another free attraction was the Noah’s Ark Petting Zoo where the children kept the animals well loved all day while nearby former Hooley Dooley performer, “Ant1 the Musician” conducted free concerts to a enthusiastic crowd.
Meanwhile the Goulburn Pipes and Drums Band seemed right at home in the wintery conditions as they marched through the village square playing their traditional Scottish ballads.
Produce and market stalls all reported record trade while food and coffee vendors were run off their feet keeping up to the demands of the hungry visitors.
But it wasn’t all hustle and bustle as many people took their time to browse through the various history and quilting displays in the old stone built churches or just relaxed in the Collector Memorial Hall over a cup of tea and a famous Collector Pumpkin Scone.
President of the Collector Village Pumpkin Festival; Mr Gary Poile said that he was very pleased that the festival continues to pull bigger crowds each year. “The committee put an amazing amount of effort into organising the event this year and it was very rewarding to see that all the hard work payed off”, he said. “One of our goals was to raise ten thousand dollars for the refurbishment of the Collector School Library as they prepare for the 150th anniversary of the small school later this year. It is great to achieve this goal and have so much fun along the way!”
The next Pumpkin Festival will be held on Sunday 7th May 2017.