The start of Halloween dawned dark and dreary for the teams from Sand In Your Eye and Hebden Royd Town Council as they met up at 7am in near torrential rain in full waterproof gear to get the third annual Great Pumpkin Festival underway. We wondered how many people would turn up in such dreadful weather to search for our pumpkin displays, watch our professional pumpkin carvers, and take part in the family workshops to make their own carved pumpkins but we needn’t have worried, pumpkin fans are a hardy bunch and they came along in their thousands!
If anything, the October rain added to the atmosphere with people determined to enjoy their half term fun. They came along in their wellies, raincoats and under umbrellas to explore our home town of Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire and follow the pumpkin trail map to find where the pumpkins were hiding. Our carved pumpkins are a cheeky bunch, they like to hide in trees, paddle along the canal, play football in the park, go swimming in the river, one was even so cheeky he ended up behind bars! Some were more helpful, washing cars in the car park or fixing a sign post. This last one was made with the help of CROWS, the Community Rights of Way Service who are a group of volunteers who work so hard to maintain the footpaths around Calderdale. This year CROWS are the Mayor’s charity.
We even had an extra terrestrial visitor, a professional pumpkin carving of the film star ET was being transported around town in his iconic bicycle basket by his old friend Elliot. As they cycled past ringing their bell you could feel the excitement ripple through the crowd as they spotted him! Elliot was ably played by Hebden Royd Town Council town clerk Jason Boom, he took to the part eagerly and must have ridden miles and miles throughout the day. When he did stop, festival goers took the opportunity to take photos and grab a selfie with ET.
In St George’s Square, Rich was busy carving a giant pumpkin into a very grumpy goblin, he attracted a big crowd with people trying to guess what he was making, he had a lot of interest from young carvers eager to pick up tips
The pumpkin carving workshops run by Sand In Your Eye in the Memorial Gardens were extremely popular throughout the day, these workshops are great kids activities at Halloween. You could enter your pumpkin into the carved pumpkin competition, the winner was picked by the Mayor Cllr Dr Carol Stow and awarded with a fabulous prize.
Lots of stalls in the Memorial Gardens were selling crafts and food, including the Yorkshire Pudding Wrap stall and Gordon Rigg’s were once again in attendance selling pumpkins for the family workshops. Musical accompaniment to the Great Pumpkin Festival was provided by Hebden Bridge Junior Band, Isaac Hughes-Dennis, Calder Valley Youth Theatre, Birds & Beasts and Logan & Manley and plenty of families joined Ursula Holden Gill by the Wavy Steps (or the Duck Steps as they are also known) on the banks of the rushing Hebden Beck to hunt Boggarts and Ghosts.
This is the third year the Halloween Pumpkin Festival has taken place in Hebden Bridge and it now has quite a following of people who love all things Halloween and pumpkin carvings, or families looking for fun things to do with the kids. Despite the weather, we think this year’s festival was bigger and better, attracting lots of new visitors to Hebden Bridge, who we are sure will return to visit our beautiful town again.
The shops, bars, cafes and pubs were busy and full of happy festival goers taking a break from the rain and the pumpkin hunting to have some food or a drink in the independent businesses that Hebden Bridge is famous for. Lots of them had joined in the pumpkin festival spirit putting Halloween decorations and painted and carved pumpkins in the window and dressing up. A special mention once again must go to Heart Gallery, whose Frida Kahlo pumpkin last year caused such a stir, this year they followed their theme of strong, independent women and their display was themed around local heroine Anne Lister, the subject of recent BBC drama Gentleman Jack.
Thanks to everybody who worked on the Great Pumpkin Festival, all the volunteers, Hebden Royd Town Council especially Emma, Lisa, Rebekah and Jason, and Hebden Bridge Rotary Club who once again gave their kind support. We all had a great time and are looking forward to next year’s festival already!