Jack-o’-Lanterns Light Up the Night at the Arboretum Annual Pumpkin Festival


The Pumpkin Festival at the Arboretum, an annual event since 2011, draws families from all around State College. “I’ve really enjoyed the Pumpkin Festival every year- It’s been a tradition ever since 6th grade and it’s a really interesting way to see the community some together in a creative way. Oh, and kettle corn and hot cider never hurt.” said Isabelle Snyder, participant and sophomore. Photo By: Adrita Talukder

Adrita Talukder, Staff Writer

On the weekend of October 19th and 20th, the Arboretum was aglow with the light of over 1,000 pumpkins for the annual Pumpkin Festival.

Though it only started in 2011, the Pumpkin Festival has become a hit in the State College community, with its lighted displays, children’s activities such as corn husk doll making and guessing games, as well as musical guests, entertainment, and food vendors.

The festival started with the people in mind. In 2011, the Director of Horticulture suggested that the Arboretum host a jack-o’-lantern contest like the ones his father had organized back in Wisconsin when he was growing up. The Arboretum’s Director and the Event and Marketing Coordinator realized that a contest could bring attention to the Botanical Gardens, which opened in the fall of 2009 and foster a sense of community among students and residents alike.

The Arboretum surpassed their initial goal, with up to 1,100 pumpkins given out a year. Attendance has also increased from approximately 2,000 to 3,000 in 2011 to an average of 10,000 annually.

Kathleen Reeder, an Arboretum spokeswoman, said, “The most popular part of the festival is the jack-o’-lantern contest display on the event lawn. Several hundred jack-o’-lanterns are arranged in seven different age categories. There is always a great variety of subjects, including, Penn State, pop culture, and arboretum themes. In fact, ribbons are awarded for the best of these three themes as well as for the best-in-show and top three in each of the seven main categories. The judges are selected from both community and campus organizations and departments.” said Reeder. The Pumpkin Festival is a fun event that involves the entire community, with the participation of all ages in both carving, judging, and other aspects of the event.

Reeder finished by saying, “I have noticed that some of the families who bring children to the Pumpkin Giveaway to pick a pumpkin for the contest are attending the festival every year. It is very satisfying to see that they are making the Pumpkin Festival a family tradition.”