Arboretum at Penn State to Host Annual Pumpkin Festival –

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Lighted jack-o’-lanterns on display at the Arboretum at Penn State’s 2021 Pumpkin Festival. Photo by Mikey DeAngelis | Onward State
UNIVERSITY PARK — A pumpkin-carving contest and lighted jack-o’-lantern display will highlight The Arboretum at Penn State’s annual Pumpkin Festival on Friday and Saturday. 
Festivities will take place in the Arboretum’s H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens, at the corner of Bigler Road and East Park Avenue on the University Park campus. Admission and parking are free. 
“Pumpkins are native to North America, and are a perfect centerpiece for this harvest-themed festival,” Arboretum Director Casey Sclar said. “They are also important to Pennsylvania agriculture.” 
“Community participation is what makes the Pumpkin Festival work,” Shari Edelson, director of operations and lead organizer of the festival, said. “Hundreds of people carve jack-o’-lanterns for us to display at the festival, and over 150 volunteers work with us to host the event every year.”  
A pumpkin giveaway for contest entrants was held last weekend, with approximately 1,000 pumpkins made available.  
Contest participants also may use their own pumpkins, but jack-o’-lanterns must be entered for the contest between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Friday, at the Arboretum’s Overlook Pavilion. A panel of campus and community leaders will award ribbons for the best three jack-o’-lanterns in each age category for best-in-show, best pop culture theme, best Penn State theme and best Arboretum theme.
Jack-o’-lanterns entered in the contest will be displayed on the event lawn from 6 to 9 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday evenings. The public is welcome to bring flashlights to evening events. 
“The Pumpkin Festival is not only a great celebration of the autumn season, but it’s also a fun way for people to connect with each other and appreciate the variety and artistry of the jack-o’-lantern designs,” Edelson said. 
On Saturday, family-friendly crafts, games, a magician and strolling musicians will be featured from 3 to 6:30 p.m.  
Live entertainment will include traditional Celtic songs provided by a three-piece group, Lilting Banshee, on Friday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and Texas swing, honky-tonk and rockabilly music by Western Range on Saturday from 5 to 8:30 p.m.  
Jack-o’-lanterns and ribbons may be picked up from 10 a.m. to noon on Sunday. 
For more about contest rules and the festival, visit the Arboretum’s website.
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