The first Saturday in October has been the yearly date for Thorp’s 25-year-old PumpkinFest. Cancelled last year, like everything else, due to COVID-19 concerns, the 2021 edition was back in excellent form.
Samantha Hubbard, one of the event coordinators, reported, “The weather turned out to be more than great! Rained a little in the morning, which shied away some vendors. We had 188 spots reserved for the event. I overheard commentary from vendors that this was their best year, yet!”
The Sam Martin Family Farms, a yearly vendor, brought loads of pumpkins and produce from their farm on Pine Road about two miles northeast of Thorp. Sam and his wife Lydia were there with several of their sons and daughters who kept the produce and flowers (lots of mums) supplied and in plain view for the attendees or helped carry the purchased items to waiting cars and trucks.
Asked how the day was going for them, Sam replied, “Oh, we are busy. I brought a lot and I don’t want to carry any of it back home!”
Jerry Micke, Thorp’s most famous pumpkin provider, was back in his usual spot with his own huge load of pumpkins right in the middle of Washington Street.
Church groups from the area—like Thorp Catholic Schools and Maple Grove Baptist Church—offered refreshments and annual vendors like Jacque’s Sugar Bush sold their maple goods and offered up warm delectables. Craft vendors like Judy Mickle were pleased with the turnout as she anticipated selling out of everything she had brought. Sisel Health and Wellness supplement vendor Catherine Shirk was having a good day with the goods and answering plenty of questions and offering lots of samples.
The weather was never an issue as the early morning drizzle disappeared and the temperatures stayed moderate. It was a welcome return from a missed year and previous years of downpours, freezing temperatures, and even snow.
Businesses on Thorp’s Washington Street also benefited from the much-increased foot traffic with Country Floral, Nolechek’s Meats, and other downtown shops getting the advantage of the annual influx of visitors. Thorpedo Restaurant was packed with owner Ali Maksuti serving as traffic cop, directing customers to tables and booths or the counter.
A Largest Pumpkin Contest was held with the top three places as follows:
1. Nick Klimpke, Neillsville, WI 936 lb.
2. David Jacque, Thorp, WI 783 lb.
3. Dan Marcheski, Augusta, WI 710 lb.
The largest pumpkin from the Thorp School District went to Liam Whitmire with an entry weighing in at 588 lb.
The day wasn’t just for shoppers and vendors, however. Plenty of entertainment was provided for the kids with a large inflatable bouncy slide and Fire and EMS vehicles on display for the kids to examine and ask questions from the first-responders.
Samantha Hubbard added, “Pumpkin painting was also a hit for the kids. We had 86 pumpkins painted!”
Vendor Judy Mickle observed how nice it was to see visitors just standing in groups and talking with each other. “The nice weather makes that possible and, for people who have been closed up for over a year, this is a welcome return.”
The Sentinel & Rural News covers the news and events of Clark County and southern Taylor County, as well as regional news that affects those areas.