By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Over the past four years, Priscilla Bloom of Bristol has used different materials to create a scarecrow that stands out at the annual Forestville Pumpkin Festival, which this year will be Oct. 26.
For Bloom, participating in the scarecrow contest serves as a way to use her creativity in different ways while having some friendly competition. When she first began participating in the contest with her children, Bloom said she decorated the scarecrow conventionally, such as adding plaid to it.
But last year, Bloom and her children added a different twist on their scarecrow by including a leather jacket and a hat. During the event, Bloom and her children won first place in the contest.
“It kind of all came together,” said Bloom, adding she found the leather jacket from Goodwill. “We went unconventional and seemed to get it.”
Bloom and her family plan to enter the scarecrow contest again this year during the 9th annual Forestville Pumpkin Festival, which will return in just two weeks. The scarecrow contest serves as one of the festival’s most popular highlights every year. Each scarecrow, which is judged individually, must be mounted on a single stake at no higher than eight feet. First place winners are awarded $50, and second and third prize winners are awarded $25 each.
Bloom said the event also serves as a fun way to see all of the creative ideas of other contestants. Bloom and her children are keeping their fingers crossed this year, and plan on adding another twist to their scarecrow.
“It’s going to be very different,” said Bloom, adding her children help create ideas to make the scarecrow unique.
What began as a festival hosted by Bristol’s own libraries nine years ago has transformed into a larger event that is a tradition of the Forestville Village Association. From games to a children’s and pet costume parade to the scarecrow and pumpkin contests as well as vendors, the annual festival has continued to keep people of all ages entertained, said Sandy Gozzo, chair of the event.
A community-minded neighborhood organization made up of business leaders and residents, the Forestville Village Association aims to “enhance the architectural and cultural character of Forestville by promoting the quality of life and commerce of the community,” according to the organization’s website.
Gozzo said the association took over the Pumpkin Festival in 2011 once the event outgrew itself for the Manross Memorial Library and Bristol Public Library. She added the event brings something new for visitors each year. This year, a mascot from Lake Compounce will make an appearance and more tables will be available for crafts.
“It gets bigger every year,” said Gozzo. “We keep adding things each year.”
Gozzo said one of the biggest highlights of the event ever year is the pumpkin illumination, which takes place at dusk. She said another major festivity guests look forward to every year is the pet costume parade, where all domestic animals are invited to enter.
Gozzo said last year a guinea pig won from the costume parade, which featured dozens of pets in a variety of costumes. The children’s costume parade also had a good turnout last year, bringing close to 300 youngsters, said Gozzo.
“Everyone just gets into it,” said Gozzo. “It has a great feel to it.”
The Pumpkin Festival will take place Sunday, Oct. 26 at Central Square from 4 to 7:30 p.m. There is no rain date.
All events are free. Guests can register their carved pumpkin or scarecrow between 3 to 4:30 p.m. for judging. Scarecrow cash prizes for $50 and $25. Entry rules are available in Nuchies lobby. Each carved pumpkin will be judged in categories such Spooky, Funny, Creative or Original and will be entered into a gift-card drawing. Late entries will not be judged.
The children’s costume parade begins at 5 p.m. from Forestville’s Manross Library, Central Street. The pet costume parade begins at 5:30 p.m. from Simply Hair. Pumpkin lighting will take place at dusk.
Awards are presented by Forestville Village Association.