Masks, costumes and more could be seen at this year’s Pumpkin Festival, especially in the parade.
Carnivàle, this year’s theme, encourages interesting costumes and other festive attire, although the Chamber of Commerce is still thinking of ways to utilize it.
“One of the things that I think our oversight committee liked about the theme is that a lot of it focused on a parade,” Executive Director Jennifer Daly said. “Our parade is one of the highlights of the festival. We’re really excited about the opportunity to add in a variety of things to the parade.”
Ideas being thrown around right now include masquerades, stilt walkers and unique floats centered around the theme.
The theme, which is voted on right after last year’s Pumpkin Festival, was one of five given to the board after about 795 people voted.
Of those five, Daly said two were similar to past themes and taken out.
“Of the other three, there were two of the other three that the oversight committee liked a lot,” she said. “Those two went to the Chamber Board of Directors and the board voted. That’s how they selected the choice.”
Since the announcement, Daly has heard nothing but excitement on Carnivàle.
She said various ideas have been given to her about how to use the theme and logo, made by Grooms Inc., and added that the Chamber is interested in hearing from the community other ways the theme could possibly be used.
People with ideas can call the Chamber office and talk to Daly to suggest them.
In addition, Program Director Tammy Stephens said people can contact her or leave messages at the Pumpkin Fest Facebook page or www.MortonPumpkinFestival.org to help volunteer.
“As you know, it takes over 2,000 volunteers to pull the festival off, so as we continue to grow, that number is going to increase,” she said.
One way the theme and logo may be used is in another T-shirt contest at the grade schools. Last year, the contest was a fundraiser for the schools, with 20 percent of sales going to the schools. This year, the committee is still in talks about doing it.
“We haven’t gotten that far yet, but it was very popular and exciting,” Daly said. “I can’t imagine that we aren’t going to do that again but we’re still talking about it.”
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More information about the possibility of a contest should be announced within the next month, Daly said.
With the official announcement of the theme being made at the Chamber of Commerce dinner, Stephens said they are going “full throttle” on festival work now.
“We’ve got the logo and the theme now, so now we start meeting with the chairman again to talk about if there’s specialty food items we need to have or if the carnival needs specialty rides,” Daly said.
She added that they also have to start placing merchandise orders because it can take several months to complete.
Food items that have been discussed are pumpkin king cakes and pumpkin jambalaya, among other ideas.
While discussing the food, though, the group has also been discussing food problems they have had in the past.
“What’s challenging for us is to estimate the food quality because we have some vendors where once you place an order you can’t get more,” Daly said.
Currently, the group is trying to figure out a balance to get enough food to last the four days of the festival, with the last day, Saturday, being one of the busiest.
While selecting the theme, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jennifer Daly said the committee was “very sensitive” about some of the negative connotations that can come from Carnivàle.
“This is a family festival,” Daly said. “Our celebration will continue to be focused on family friendly fun.”
She added that Carnivàle did not start as the party theme it is now, but actual has a religious background.
“The root of Carnivale, which is celebrated around the world by many, many cultures, started as a religious celebration before Lent,” she said.