Great Pumpkin Festival ready to charm guests in 'lucky' 7th year

Great Pumpkin Festival ready to charm guests in 'lucky' 7th year

NORTH SMITHFIELD - It's back, and it's still growing.

The town's 7th annual Great Pumpkin Festival will take place this Saturday, Sept. 21, on the high school and middle school grounds, and organizers have added on new food, games and entertainment to the list of longtime favorites.

The event, which is used to help the town's many nonprofit organizations raise needed funding, has expanded nearly every year since its inception, and is celebrating 2013 with the theme "Lucky 7."

"The theme will be used in decorating the booths," explained Donna Baril, chairperson of this year's festival. Dozens of organizations show off their creativity in their allotted spaces, finding unique ways to incorporate the theme for the chance to win prizes. In 2012, North Smithfield Animal Shelter won first place with a "Magic Bus," built to accompany a 1960's theme.

A new highlight this year will be "North Smithfield's Got Talent," a competition including dance, vocal, musical and comedy acts with cash prizes for the top four contestants. So far, Baril said, six acts have officially signed up for the competition with more still expected. She'll be excepting entries right up until Friday of routines no longer than 2.5 minutes in length. The contest will not include bands and acts must supply their own music and/or props. To register, Barila said, contestants must email her at domyna43@yahoo.com.

This year, the Knights of Columbus will also run a giant bingo game for those feeling lucky.

The festival's food court will have 35 vendors serving all of the old standbys, from pizza and dynamites, to candied apples and pies. Some new additions this year include a pig roast for pulled pork, and sweet rice.

Two stages will feature continuous performances throughout the day with a variety of music, dance and other original acts.

On the festival's main stage, entertainment by "Or I Might Explode," a group of North Smithfield High School students performing popular and original soft rock music, will be followed by "Back Track," a five-piece band covering oldies. Festival newcomer "T.O.M.B." aka, "The Old Man Band" will close out the day.

A second stage, dedicated to unique performances beyond just musical acts, has a full schedule starting at 11 a.m., with entertainment by The Dance Step of Uxbridge, Mass. From 11:30 until noon, BoBo the Clown will entertain the kids, followed by Mastery Marital Arts. The North Smithfied High School Drama Club will take the stage at 12:30, and at 1 p.m., the talent competition begins.

"We have singing, dancing, comedy and a few duos," said Baril.

The talent show will continue until 3 p.m., when Okinawan Temple of Smithfield comes on, followed by musician Brian Twohey at 3:30. Twohey, a soloist who plays classic rock, jazz, blues and Irish music, will also serve as the stage's MC.

At 4 p.m., he'll announce the winners of North Smithfield's Got Talent.

It is Baril's first year serving on the Pumpkin Festival Committee, the small group of volunteers that pulls together the event that typically draws in some 5,000 visitors.

"I went to the first meeting wanting to being an active member and starting talking out ideas," said Baril.

The committee was trying to design a festival logo, and Baril's commitment to making the event a success quickly became apparent.

"I said that I can draw one and have it to Town Hall by the morning," she said. When she delivered the drawing, Baril says Town Administrator Paulette Hamilton thanked her for stepping up, saying "Don't worry, you'll be fine."

"Paulette has been very supportive," she added.

The other lead members of the committee this year were Bob Gallant, Doug Guilbert and Laura Dube.

Nonprofits that benefit from the festival every year include many of the town's religious organizations such as St. John's Church, Slatersville Church, Sam Liley Memorial Fund, Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society and Cub Scouts. New this year will be booths by the Holy Ghost Society of North Smithfield, Camp Phoenix, and the North Smithfield Public Library.

The festival will also offer pony rides and "touch a truck," a popular annual feature for kids including 25 vehicles this year. According to Baril, there will be several other free games for children.

The event will be held rain or shine on Saturday, Sept. 21, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Guests are reminded to bring small bills for purchases and asked to bring a donation for the North Smithfield Food Pantry. For more information on the event, email to domyna43@yahoo.com.