Pumpkins, pumpkins and more pumpkins: The Highwood Great Pumpkin Fest takes place October 18-20

You've probably noticed that there are Halloween events taking place every day and night from now through the end of the month. Halloween is a month. Not a day. Many of these Halloween themed events are similar (think pumpkin patches, costumes contests and too much candy). But only one local Halloween event is trying to win another a Guinness World Record.

The Highwood Great Pumpkin Fest 2012 (October 18-20), is going to be the biggest and best Halloween Fest the world has ever seen (so they say). Organizers anticipate over 60,000 people heading to Highwood for this 3-day festival. Highwood will be attempting to break a new “lit-pumpkin” record by lighting more than 32,000 jack-o-lanterns in one location; they will surpass the highest number of people simultaneously carving pumpkins (the current record is 965 participants); and they will win the title of “longest line of pumpkin pies” by lining up more than 800 pumpkins. This jam=packed event also features pumpkin bowling, costume contests and a “land regatta” where townspeople race 200-300 pound pumpkins on a 150-yard course (now that is something I'd like to see).

Highwood's three-day festival, offers free admittance with pumpkin carving galore, live music, artisan foods with pumpkin flare, a zip line, children’s activities such as petting zoo, pony rides and a carnival. Walls of jack-o-lanterns, up to 30 feet high, line the streets of downtown Highwood. The fun family festivities offer plenty of opportunities for people to come together, carve pumpkins and place them on one of the Great Pumpkin Walls for display, and then take them back home after the record breaking attempt on Saturday, October 20th is completed.

The schedule for the three-day festival is as follows: Thursday and Friday, October 18th 19th, from 3-9pm, Saturday, October 20th, from 10am-9pm. Sunday, October 21st from 10am-9pm will be held as the rain date. The full schedule of events and activities below:

Thursday, Oct. 18th:
3pm – The renowned Highwood outdoor Bocce Court will be transformed into Totem Pole Park, with pumpkin totem poles being created and judging at 7:45pm.
6:30pm – Guinness World Records attempt for the Longest Line of Pumpkin Pies. The longest line of pies measured 161.75 meters (530 feet, 8 inches) and was achieved by Randall D. Fox (USA) as a part of the Chastain Park Arts Festival, Atlanta, Georgia, on October 18, 2009. Highwood will going for 1001!
7pm – The Pumpkin Pie Eating Contest in front of Bent Fork Bakery on Waukegan Avenue will attract pumpkin pie lovers from all over Chicago. Contestants will try and eat as many pies as they can with their hands tied behind their backs!

Friday, Oct. 19th:
6:00pm – Guinness World Records attempt for the Most People Carving Simultaneously. The most pumpkins carved simultaneously is 965, achieved by 965 students at the Malvern Town Centre in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada on October 31, 2005. The Great Highwood Pumpkin Fest will host their record-breaking feat on Friday October 19th at 6pm, with $10 all-you-can-carve pre-gutted pumpkin wristbands, including Great Highwood Pumpkin Fest Carving Knife and certificate. If you do not have a carving wristband, it is $10 to participate.
8pm – “Light Up The Night” Pumpkin Parade with a New Orleans feel!

Saturday, Oct. 20th:
9am – 5K/10K Pumpkin Run and Kid’s Dash benefiting the Leukemia Research Foundation, will be held on the new gorgeous path in the Open Lands. The Kid’s Dash will be roughly 350 meters long, and will begin at 8:45am, followed by the 5K and 10K beginning at 9am sharp. Each run will begin at Sheridan Road and Walker Avenue, heading north into Fort Sheridan where the 5K and 10K will split. The 5K runners will head down the beautiful route through Fort Sheridan, and back up to Sheridan Road, while the 10K runners will run through the Open Lands on Lake Michigan, and back up to Sheridan Road. Pumpkin Runners are also encouraged to dress up and run in costume to get into the Halloween spirit! There will be a prize awarded for the best costume.
Noon – The Giant Pumpkin Land Regatta will race south down Sheridan Road, starting at the North Gate. There will be two races – one motorized and one not motorized. There is a $25 fee to enter, which includes a dolly.
4pm – The Pet Costume Contest will take place at the Main Stage. Bring your pet “dressed to kill” and ready to strut their stuff! There is a $10 fee to enter.
6:30pm – The Grand Lighting of the Pumpkin Walls!

New to the festival this year is the addition of keepsake glow-in-the-dark orange, all-you-can-carve wristbands! This year, no individual pumpkins will be sold. Anyone over six years of age must have a wristband in order to carve. Wristbands are $20, and are good for carving throughout all three days of the festival. If attendees would like to purchase carving wristbands just for the day-of, adults over the age of 12 can carve for $10, kids aged 6-11 can carve for $5, and kids under the age of 6 are free with an adult with a wristband.

For more information on the festival, check out the official website.

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