Pumped For Pumpkins


Zombie golf, an action packed parade, huge pumpkins and Veronica enters a pie eating contest! See our full adventure here! >>

The biggest pumpkin at the Sycamore Pumpkin Fest weighed in at 280 pounds!

With All Hallow’s Eve just around the corner, we searched for the most sincere pumpkin patch we could find for a gourd old celebration.

We couldn’t have done better for pumpkin pageantry than Sycamore Illinois, and the 52nd Annual Sycamore Pumpkin Festival.

We kicked off the weekend down on the courthouse lawn with the Lions Club Giant Pumpkin Weigh-in, and got to gawk at an 280 pounder. Not quite up to the new world record, set this year, of 2,032 pounds, but enormously impressive nevertheless.

It takes four men to hoist the giant pumpkins onto the scale at the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival in Illinois!
It takes four men to hoist the giant pumpkins onto the scale!

The Sycamore, Illinois Courthouse

Equally impressive were the thousands of Jack-o’-lanterns on display in front of the courthouse, in fact, this is how it all got started. Wally Thurow, Sycamore’s “Mr. Pumpkin,” began the tradition back in 1956 when he decorated a few pumpkins and set them out in his yard. The town took to it, the numbers grew, then in 1962 the Lions Club helped out and the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival became official.

Pumpkins decorated by elementary school kids at the Sycamore Pumpkin Fest in Illinois
So many pumpkins! The above entries are all made by elementary school kids!

Here are some of our favorite entries!
Funny witch pumpkin at the Sycamore Pumpkin Fest in Illinois

M&M Pumpkins at the Sycamore Pumpkin Fest in Illinois

Awesome carved pumpkins at the Sycamore Pumpkin Fest in Illinois

Amazing carved pumpkins at the Sycamore Pumpkin Fest in Illinois

Decorated pumpkins at the Sycamore Pumpkin Fest in Illinois

Zombie Miniature Golf at the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival in Illinois

Of course the festival also happens to coincide with Halloween, no coincidence no doubt, and that means ghosts, goblins, witches, and even some zombies.

Zombies? Yes, zombies, and playing miniature golf no less. This we had to see, so we were off to the library for a good fright, and to help raise some funds. We managed to escape with our whole brains, but no holes-in-one.

Scary pumpkin carving at the Sycamore Illinois Pumpkin Fest

There’s more reason to celebrate pumpkins in these parts than just fun and games.

Eighty percent of all the pumpkins produced commercially in the U. S. are produced in North Central Illinois.

By far the majority of those get processed into canned pumpkin, and we know what that’s good for… pie!

Kids pie eating contest at the Sycamore Pumpkin Fest - SO cute!

Speaking of pie, what’s a festival without some good old-fashioned competitive eatin’? So it was back to The Courthouse for the Kiwanis Pie Eating Contest.

After watching kids, some no more than three years old, speed eat giant slabs of pie Veronica was ready to give it a try in the adult category. Give her an A for effort, but she was not even in the same league as some of the veteran competitors.

WATCH: Ginormous pumpkins, zombie attacks and Veronica’s heroic pie eating attempt!

The Elmwood Cemetery Gate in Sycamore, Illinois

Sunset at Elmwood Cemetery in Sycamore, Illinois

With dusk falling it was time to scare ourselves silly so we headed over to Elmwood Cemetery for some spooky storytelling.

We entered through historic gates (dated 1865, they are officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places)  that looked straight out of a Vincent Price movie.

Scary stories in the cemetery at the Sycamore Pumpkin Fest, Illinois

Local residents took turns spinning yarns to tingle the spine and, as if on cue, a bat flew through the group during the second tale. When the screams subsided the stories continued.

Scary stories in the cemetery at the Sycamore Pumpkin Fest, Illinois

A boy ride a unicycle in the Pumpkin Fest parade in Sycamore, Illinois

Sunday brought the grand finale of the festivities, the big Pumpkin Festival Parade. We were amazed at the crowd that gathers in little Sycamore – tailgating, dressed in costume and patronizing the non-profit-only food vendors dotting the route.

This is the big fundraiser for many of these do-gooders in the community and we were happy to part with a few dollars for some pre-parade snackage.

Dancers in the Pumpkin Fest Parade in Sycamore, Illinois

People with pumpkins on their heads at the Sycamore Pumpkin Fest in Illinois

Floats, bands, clubs, politicians and businesses from Sycamore and the neighboring area were all represented in the parade – marching, tumbling, riding and waving their hearts out.

The Northern Illinois University Marching Band in the Pumpkin Fest Parade, Sycamore, Illinois

A lion marches in the Pumpkin Fest Parade in Sycamore, Illinois

This is small-town America at her finest. With a bit of a scary edge. It is Halloween after all.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Delve Deeper:

See all of our adventures in Illinois

We LOVE festivals! See more GypsyNester festival coverage
Go to the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival Website



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