Kenai’s field of flowers will become a multipurpose piece of property with the inception of the city’s first ever Fall Pumpkin Festival later this month.
The festival, which will be held from 1–3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15 at the field, was born out of the Parks and Recreation Department’s beautification committee as a way for residents to enjoy the otherwise dull transition from summer to winter, said Parks and Recreation Director Bob Frates.
“The flowers have all but withered away, and I think that that just gives life to new opportunities,” he said.
Parks and Recreation workers will mow the hill where the wildflowers bloomed in preparation for the festival, Frates said. One of their primary goals will be to knock the flower seeds out of their pods to encourage germination next year. Frates said he encourages people walking through the field to do the same to make sure there is some good “seed to ground contact.”
Frates said the department will also set up a static display complete with straw bales and fall decorations. Students from Kenai Central High School are working on a fall-themed backdrop for families to take pictures in front of as well, he said.
As for the details of the festival itself, Frates said members of the beautification committee settled on pumpkins because “pumpkins are this endearing symbol of fall.” The first 150 kids to come will get a free pumpkin, which they can decorate at a painting station or take home to carve on their own.
James Adcox, children’s librarian at the Kenai Community Library, will make an appearance at the festival to regale the younger crowd with stories and puppets. This will be geared toward children in preschool through second or third grade, he said.
Adcox will also give a demonstration for kids who want to sculpt, rather than carve, their pumpkins this year. Where carving involves pushing a knife or carving tool all the way through the pumpkin, sculpting involves carving a design into the surface of the pumpkin skin without going all the way through. This can be tricky, as Adcox said pumpkins are temperamental mediums.
“In fact no knives are needed at all, and you can still get pretty realistic images,” he said.
The sculpting at the festival will be a demonstration only, and Adcox will host another sculpting workshop at the library closer to Halloween because sculpting pumpkins leads to quicker decay, he said.
“When you sculpt your pumpkin it only lasts maybe a week tops before its details start to deteriorate,” he said.
Other activities at the festival will include cookie decorating and a petting zoo. For more information, call the Parks and Recreation Department at (907) 283-8261.