WESTVILLE — Eight youngsters hunkered down under a picnic shelter applying their artistic talents Saturday in Prairie Meadows Park.
The kids were dodging raindrops and competing in the Pumpkin Decorating Contest at the 26th Pumpkin Festival.
Hundreds roamed the festival grounds, browsing nearly 100 tents set up by local crafters, nonprofit organizations, and commercial vendors. Others took advantage of their last opportunity to indulge in fair food – elephant ears, funnel cakes, and Polish sausages, among others.
The event, which began Friday evening with a fish dinner, Pumpkin Festival royalty crowning and a teen dance, continued Saturday with a parade, a 5-K run/walk, a classic car show, bingo, a kids fun race, and pie eating, hula hoop and jump rope contests.
The Westville volunteer fire department hosted its popular pork chop dinner while folks were entertained by the Good Time Cloggers and the Stoney Ridge Band in the evening. Events on tap today include a pancake breakfast, a basketball tournament, bingo and a magic show.
The festival, sponsored by the Westville Tri Kappa, is a fundraiser for the organization, which gives “90 percent” of its proceeds back to Westville, said member Jan Buchanan.
The group plans to raise $14,500 this year to donate to “culture, charity, and education,” said member Jenny McBride.
McBride said the Westville Tri Kappa offers high school and college scholarships, sponsors the Westville Elementary School art fair, donates funds to the Westville Public Library and the town’s fire department, and provides at least 75 needy families with toys and food in Christmas baskets each year.
The group hopes this year’s Pumpkin Festival will raise $10,000, double last year’s proceeds of $5,000.
At the picnic shelter, kids 4 to 24 stayed dry and decorated pumpkins with glued-on googly eyes and used markers to add more color to the solid orange gourds.
Ryan Weaver, of Westville, watched as his children, Myleigh, 8, and Brydon, 6, decorated their pumpkins. The festival is a family tradition, as the Weavers attend each year.
“I went to school in Westville,” said Weaver. “Myleigh is in Girl Scouts and walks in the parade. I am Westville born and raised.”
Emily Stephenson, 5, and Corrina Sanders, 4, sat next to each other and couldn’t wait to get started.
“We come every year,” said Michael Blakely, uncle to Emily and Corrina. “We even came the year it snowed. We love it. It’s a small town thing.”