by Mike Conroy
Once again on an early fall Saturday, pumpkins and people descended on North Creek Community Center to participate in the area’s most creative fall festival, the Montgomery Village Great Pumpkin Race. Colorful decoration, tense racing action, plenty of family fun and pumpkin-themed everything, set to the tunes of local band 45 RPM, was the backdrop again this year on October 10. Families gathered with pumpkin racers in hand to enjoy the annual Fall Festival and try their luck at taking home the coveted Pumpkin Racer Trophy.
In a straight out dash for the finish line of the final heat, with no crashes, pushing or pumpkin lockup, were Ayane Fernandez’s “Owl,” Alivia Allen’s “Cat,” Homegrown Homeschool’s Racer and the Ahlman Family’s “Gordo II.” The four group winners had beaten out many crowd favorites during the afternoon, and ultimately it was Gordo II who edged out the competition for the win.
Gordo II didn’t waste time with decorations, opting instead for a streamlined and aerodynamic approach, which paid off in the end, proving it’s not all about the disguise. Plenty of pumpkins, though were in costume, including more cheaters than ever before.
Hundreds of residents and community neighbors were in attendance at the sixth annual Great Pumpkin Race and Fall Festival, held on October 10, enjoying the rides, games and food. It was clear from the number of test runs, pumpkin garage visits and fantastically decorated pumpkins, that competition for this year’s medals and trophy were on everyone’s mind once again.
Before the races started, festival-goers had an opportunity to visit with local business and organizations, preview or purchase artwork from the Gaithersburg Fine Arts Association, play carnival games, ride the rides and participate in pumpkin-themed crafts. The test track and racer garage were encompassed in a flurry of activity to the last minute.
Earlier in the day, judges sampled pumpkin pies and other baked goods prepared for the Pie and Treat competition. Katie Hunter’s Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread and Alexandrine Froger’s Pumpkin Pie won medals in the 16 and older category, Tyler and Lauren Shuttles’ Cheescake Filled Pumpkin Roll and Pumpkin Patch Biscuits each took a medal in the 15 and under category.
Once the test track was closed and the tools were holstered in the pumpkin garage, racing excitement began with the community leader exhibition match kicking things off. Senator Nancy King’s pumpkin, a green snail, was anything but slow, but not fast enough to beat MVF Board member Linda Moore, MVF Board President John Driscoll, or EVP Dave Humpton. But it was Watkins Mill High School Principal Carol Goddard who reclaimed the VIP title, after a devastating loss last year to former Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney Katz.
Following the VIP opening race, racers lined up for elimination heat after heat for the next hour, pitting siblings, friends, neighbors and strangers against each other. Amid a plethora of finely decorated, rule-abiding pumpkins were a fair number of cheaters, who, once identified, were at the mercy of the crowd and the referee. It didn’t take much crowd convincing to have those whose pumpkins bent the rules eliminated from competition via the referee’s mallet.
Several chants of “Smash it! Smash it!” were heard before the final thud of the mallet sent pumpkin seeds flying across the race track to loud cheers from the crowd. Cheaters included MVF EVP Dave Humpton’s “Piggy Bank;” several gourds in the likes of animals; a soccer ball cupcake; hollowed out pumpkins; a basket of popcorn; a papaya-turned-butterfly; and an Angry Bird watermelon, among others. All cheaters were pummeled on site and banned from the race...will they be back next year?
MVF would like to thank our generous sponsors of and participants in the event, including: 45 RPM; All-Day Medical Care Clinic; Bloom Montgomery Village; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; Divine Landscaping; Georgetown Hill; Gutter Helmet Systems; Kicks Karate; Kitchen Saver/HBC Home Solutions LLC; Ledo Pizza; Liberty Mutual – Rockville; Montgomery County 6th District Police and Officer Scott Zimmerman; Montgomery Village Animal Hospital; MTA/Corridor Cities Transitway; Presidential Heating and Air Conditioning; Renewal by Andersen of Maryland; Ross Bryant; Tabitha Harvey, Marky Kay Consultant; The Gaithersburg Fine Arts Association; TW Perry; Urban Bar-B-Que; Watkins Mill High School; and Window Nation for their support of the event.
Next year’s Great Pumpkin Race and Fall Festival is sure to bring even more competition and excitement—keep your wheels, or find new ones, and start planning your racer now! The 2016 Great Pumpkin Race and Fall Festival is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 15—see you then!