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Pumpkin Day draws crowd to Manchester

By BLANTON MATTHEWS | The Arkadelphian

MANCHESTER — After about a 15-minute drive southeast from Arkadelphia proper one comes upon the rural community of Manchester. Every fall — excepting the disease-plagued year before last — people from all over the region make pilgrimage to this spot and celebrate the season on what they call Pumpkin Day, and Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, was Pumpkin Day once again from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Pumpkins and all things autumn are part of the annual Manchester Pumpkin Day festivities. | The Arkadelphian/Blanton Matthews

For a $1 ticket each, kids partook in all manner of games and activities. They walked and crawled a spooky Halloween maze between short walls adorned in black cloth, rode a yellow tricycle between a hay bale obstacle course, tossed rings on candy-corn-painted traffic cones, painted faces, and tossed footballs. There was a spinning wheel of fortune, a Plinko wall, and labeled rubber ducks from which to win prizes. Alongside these ticketed entry games were the usual fixed playground and plastic slides resting atop hay bales. A kids’ “fun run” was held early in the day, with the first finishers arriving at the finish line a little after 10.

Perhaps the main attraction was the hayride along well-tread unpaved paths through the woods, not too bumpy but just enough so for fun, that has delighted riders of all ages for many years. Vendors, local political candidates up for election next month, and community organizations had booths and tables near the road. There were a few food trucks selling lunch, including The Twisted Noodle, Captain’s Crew, and Twisted Kitchen, offering a variety of options, and there was a kettle corn booth nearby for snacking. Early on, the line to the ticket booth was only a couple families long, but by 11 this had grown impressively to several yards.

The annual event, all held around the Manchester Community Center, a schoolhouse much older than anyone present, brings seasonal joy to people from all walks of life from all over southwest Arkansas. If the past and present are at all indicative of the future, it will continue to do so for many generations to come.

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3 replies »

  1. Great story. Thanks for covering it for those of us who could not attend this year. Pumpkin Day is a great tradition ’round these parts.

  2. Thank you for covering our event, we had a tremendous attendance and beautiful weather which resulted in funds to help us continue the restoration and maintenance of our community center!

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