Spalding: Pumpkin Festival Returns

The 12th Annual Pumpkin festival is back in Spalding today - and is the second largest event of its' type in the world.

Thousands of pumpkins are adorning Spalding town centre in the annual celebration of horticulture and the harvest today.

Thousands of people from across the region, and across the UK are expected in town for the 12th annual Pumpkin Festival and Parade.

The event is in recognition of South Holland's status as pumpkin-growing capital of Europe. 

Fairground attractions, food, live music, competitions, street entertainers, fireworks and fancy dress are all part of a programme specially devised for all the family. 

The action centres on Sheep Market, Hall Place and the Market Place with the humble pumpkin the theme to South Holland's centrepiece event.

The theme runs through the host of stalls selling soups, cakes, cookies and pies while the Bread and Butter Theatre Company's Gardener's Question Time and Plunge Boom.

The evening programme starts off with a fancy dress competition and live entertainment.

The parade will set off at 6.30pm, complete with this year's Flower Queen Amy Harrison whose bespoke choice of transport will be her magical Pumpkin Coach. 

In The Crescent, Vine Street and Francis Street, there's a challenge to spot a family of meerkats lurking amid the pumpkin-themed shopfronts. 

Fireworks will light up the night sky before local band Zebra provide the finale of covers ranging from The Beatles to Robbie Williams

South Holland District Council Deputy Leader, Nick Worth told Heart: "The Pumpkin Festival is a really happy occasion which we all look forward to every year and 5th October promises to be another fabulous day out for all the family which brings a lot of people into the town centre, while boosting the local economy. 

This promotes a local farming company which is the largest producer of pumpkins in Europe. There is so much more to pumpkins than just eating them." 

The festival is sponsored by grower David Bowman - a local farmer who grows and sells more than a million pumpkins each year - the biggest pumpkin producer in the UK.

From his website: (read PumpkinParade in full HERE )

"Pumpkins are believed to have originated in North America, although seeds from related plants have been found in Mexico that date back as far as 7000 to 5500 B.C. References to pumpkins date back many centuries, with the name pumpkin originating from the Greek word for pepon, which means large melon. Pepon was changed by the French into pompon and from there the English changed it to pump ion. 

American colonists changed pumpion into pumpkin, hence the term we are familiar with today. Much like Easter eggs and mince pies, pumpkins only come to peoples minds once a year at Halloween when they come alive as Jack-O-Lanterns. Originally an ancient festival rooted in Celtic folklore, Halloween was first celebrated by the British and Irish who lit bonfires and carved ghoulish faces out of turnips to scare off the evil spirits that were said to be roaming around on 31st October. 

When the Irish emigrated to America in the mid-1800s, pumpkins, which are native to the New World , were more readily available and so the Irish took to carving these instead. The Americans made the Jack-O-Lantern an essential part of the Halloween season we now look forward to - or dread - each year. 

Although the British have been quick to take up trick-or-treating at Halloween, we seem more reluctant to see the merits of the pumpkin as a culinary object. This hard-skinned, densely-fleshed vegetable has a wonderful earthy taste but its magic lies in its ability to take on whatever flavours you throw at it."

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