Arkadelphia News

A REAL GOURD TIME: Pumpkin Day set for Oct. 1

By JOEL PHELPS | The Arkadelphian

MANCHESTER — As summer transitions into fall and September draws to a close, October promises cooler autumnal weather, the crunch of fallen leaves on the ground, and pumpkins — lots of them. The symbolic gourd of the fall will take center stage in Manchester on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., at the Manchester Community Center, site of the annual Pumpkin Day festivities.

Pumpkin Day festivities begin with the opening of games, craft vendors and food trucks. There will be hay rides in antique trailers towed by tractors, an antique tractor show, Nerf and water gun shooting games, a bounce house and Arkansas Farm Bureau will bring Bessie, its artificial dairy cow.

In this undated photo, a pair of youngsters ride in a wagon with their haul at Manchester’s Pumpkin Day festival. | Photo by Joel Phelps

On the grassy lot between the community center’s playground and Manchester Road will be rows of Arkansas-grown pumpkins, all of them for sale. Festival-goers are able to browse the large selection of pumpkins that will be picked and delivered the day before the event. In addition to the traditional jack-o-lantern type pumpkins, exotic varieties will be available at Pumpkin Day.

Parking and admission to Pumpkin Day is free. Tickets for games and activities are $1 apiece. Parking is available at the residences adjacent to the community center.

All proceeds from Pumpkin Day help fund improvements and restoration of Manchester’s century-old community center, which once served as a two-room schoolhouse that served the community. With visitors from all over Southwest Arkansas, in the past the festival has raked in as much as $8,000 in a single day.

Pumpkin Day proceeds so far have been used to install central heating and air at the community center, as well as ceiling fans, cabinet tops, flooring and siding, playground equipment and new restrooms.

Pumpkin Day is the only annual fundraiser for Manchester Rural Community Improvement, one of 89 nonprofit groups that cropped up Arkansas in the 1960s as a means to improve rural living. Of those 89 original RCIs, the Manchester group is the only one that has continually met since its inception, said Jacque Hill, the RCI’s secretary and co-chair of Pumpkin Day. The group meets once a month at the community center, where they hold a business meeting, potluck dinner and have a program about rural life.

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