The Great Pumpkin Festival

The first annual event will be held Sept. 22 at the North Smithfield Elementary School on Providence Pike. So far, 28 nonprofit groups and organizations have signed up to set up booths for the day-long festival, which organizers are hoping will be an annual event. The town will sponsor several of its owns booths, including live entertainment, make your own scarecrow, carve your own jack-o-lantern and a Great Pumpkin Chuck, in which pumpkins will be shot into the air with a catapult.
"Many of us feel this could be an annual event that defines North Smithfield," said Town Administrator Robert B. Lowe. "Like Woonsocket's Autumnfest and Cumberland's CumberlandFest, we wanted a festival with a North Smithfield identity."
Lowe said the idea for a town autumnal celebration was born out of the town's extremely successful fundraising event two years ago when the community pulled together to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, an event that raised $50,000. At that time, Lowe said, the town's nonprofit organizations and groups came out in droves, eager to help out.
"What we realized at that time is that there are a lot of nonprofits in town, and if we had a festival we could open it up to those organizations and let them set up a booth for free. The feeling is that people are hungry for this kind of thing," Lowe said.
Organizers are hoping to make the festival a destination place in the coming years.
Nonprofits who take part in the event with a booth keep all proceeds. The proceeds generated from the town-sponsored events, such as the live entertainment and Great Pumpkin Chuck, will be utilized for community enhancement programs, including the creation of an outdoor ice skating rink at Pacheco Park.
The North Smithfield Fire Department and North Smithfield High School class of 2008 have signed on to sell hot dogs, and the Parents Football Group will be serving up clam cakes and chowder.
The Congregational Church, North Smithfield Teachers Association and Homestead Gardens will all have booths, as will the Conservation Commission and Animal Shelter and many others.
There will be bands and other live musical entertainment, a classic car show, motorcycle rally, face-painting, raffles, pumpkin painting, kids games, book sales, magic show, story tellers and more.
There will also be a giant pumpkin on site and a prize for the person who guesses the correct weight.
Select town merchants will sell festival buttons for admission at $1 each.
Lowe said the festival wouldn't have been possible if not for the efforts of Katy Hall, Donna Kaehler, Melissa Flaherty and Paulette Hamilton, who are the prime movers and shakers behind the planning of the event. Especially Hall and Kaehler, who were instrumental in coordinating the Katrina fundraiser two years ago, he said.
Several town businesses have also come forwards to offer financial support to help inaugurate the festival through the purchase of advertisements, signs, flyers and newspaper ads.
Any nonprofit organizations who would like to participate in the festival or any business who would like to help with sponsorship can call Lowe at (401) 767-2202, ext. 303; Hall at (401) 769-9310; or Kaehler at (401) 762-2542.





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