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The Joys of a Small Town Festival in Missouri

Updated on June 6, 2016
Pumpkin Daze, Republic
Pumpkin Daze, Republic | Source

Today I learned of a festival coming to my new home town of Republic. Pumpkin Daze! On the first Saturday of each October, beginning in 1992 (this year that will be October 3) the town closes off Main Street for several blocks and people line the streets with booths, selling their wares which are oftentimes home made, and gawk at the massive pumpkins vying for the Grand Prize. Imagine a pumpkin that weighs over 700 pounds: and loses by more than 300 pounds! How about a watermelon that tips the scale at almost 250 pounds? Maybe a cantaloupe the weighs more than 20 pounds? Hungry for a tomato? Care to take on one that weighs over 2 1/2 pounds? Well, step right up to downtown Republic and you just might see all of these huge fruits and vegetables at one time!

Yes, each of these massive items were on view in the 2014 Pumpkin Daze festival, and with the rain we've had this year there's no telling what might be rolled out this year. Will there be a world record set like there was last year? Yep, a genuine World Record! In the Heavy Gourd category someone set the record at 279 1/2 pounds here last year in the festival.

If you're in the area, be sure to stick around for the next weekend and visit nearby Mt. Vernon for their Apple Butter Makin' Days. This festival runs October 9 - 11, 2015 this year and features one of Missouri's favorite festivals on the courthouse square. This festival has run for almost 50 years now since its inception in 1967. A visitor can partake in the festivities themselves in fun things like Nail Drivin' and Terrapin Racin'. There's also a Pet Parade, Bubble Gum Blowing Contest, and if you're really hungry, step right up and enter the Apple Pie Eating' Contest! Once you're belly's full you can relax and listen to the Fiddler's Contest as they play some of your favorite tunes.

You can of course simply enjoy the Apple Butter and watching it being made right in front of you. The participants will use large copper kettles, some of which are in excess of 100 years old to create their wonderful apple butter. You can literally be on hand to watch as they fill your own jar of Apple Butter to purchase and take home to eat at your leisure. Of course, you can always enjoy it on the spot as well!

Apple Butter not to your liking? No worries Mate! There's also kettle corn, caramel apples, bratwurst, turkey drumsticks, baked potatoes and that ever popular festival favorite funnel cakes! As Grandpa Jones would say "Yumm Yumm!"

Apple Butter Makin' Days, Mt. Vernon
Apple Butter Makin' Days, Mt. Vernon | Source

From Springfield you can get anywhere!

Do you participate or visit small town festivals near you?

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Maple Leaf Parade, Carthage
Maple Leaf Parade, Carthage | Source

Also beginning in the 1960's, Carthage's Maple Leaf Festival draws people from near and far to the tune of over 80,000 people to this small town in southwest Missouri. A parade officially kicks things off on the third Saturday of October (if you're keeping track, that's October 3 in Republic, October 9 in Mt. Vernon, and October 17 in Carthage. Maybe you better just stay for the whole month!) but that's not the beginning of the festival. This festival is too large to be contained by a single weekend; no, try the whole MONTH!! Yes, I said a month! Beginning on October 1st with a Quilt Show and ending on October 31st this festival delivers somthing for everyone. A Car Show, bicycle tour, both a 5K and 10K run, Beauty Pageants for ages newborn and up, but the most popular attraction will be on that third Saturday of the month when the parade hits town. Featuring bands from across the area this parade can take several hours to run its length, which is just under two (2) miles.

Starvy Creek Bluegrass Festival, Conway
Starvy Creek Bluegrass Festival, Conway | Source

September has its share of local festivals as well. Branson has Autumn Daze Arts, Crafts and Music Festival running the 17th through the19th; Conway, Mo. hosts the Starvy Creek Bluegrass Festival; and running the 16th of September through the end of October Silver Dollar City has its annual National Harvest Festival. On the 18th and 19th of September nearby Mansfield hosts its Wilder Days in honor of author Laura Ingalls Wilder, she of the Little House on the Prairie books.

Or maybe you like Cider? Hmm? Well then you need to head to Springfield, Mo. on September 19th and 20th for Cider Days on Historic Walnut St. Full of arts and crafts, performers and areas to spend time with your children, this fun filled festival will excite young and old.

Festivals In The Area

Starvy Creek Bluegrass Festival
Conway, Mo.
National Harvest Festival
Silver Dollar City
Autumn Daze Crafts Fair
Branson, Mo
Hootin' an Hollarin'
Gainseville, Mo
Wilder Days
Mansfield, Mo
Cider Days
Springfield, Mo
Ozark Arts and Crafts Show
Ozark, Mo
Joplin, Mo
Pumpkin Daze
Republic, Mo
Harvest Moon Festival
Forsyth, Mo
Houn' Dawg Auto Show
Aurora, Mo
Apple Butter Makin' Days
Mt. Vernon, Mo
Turkey Trot
Yellville, Ark
Grape and Fall Festival
Hollister, Mo
Wyatt Earp Fest
Lamar, Mo
Maple Leaf Parade
Carthage, Mo
Glade Top Flaming Fall Review
Ava, Mo
Flaming Fall Review, Ava
Flaming Fall Review, Ava | Source

But wait! That's not all! There's the Ozark Arts and Crafts Show October 2 - 4; Forsyth Harvest Moon Festival and Car Show October 3rd; Oktoberfest in Joplin October 2nd and 3rd; Aurora's Houn' Dawg Auto Fest on October 3rd; Grape and Fall Festival in Hollister October 10th; even a Wyatt Earp Fallfest in Lamar that same day!

Or maybe you want something a little quieter. If so, try the Glade Top Trail Flaming Fall Review in beautiful Mark Twain National Forest at Ava, Mo. on October 18th. A church service, pumpkin painting, scarecrow making contest, live music and best of all, breathtaking views of the fall foliage for one to enjoy. Ahhh!

Hootin' an Hollarin' at Gainesville
Hootin' an Hollarin' at Gainesville | Source

So, are ya' comin"? There's plenty for all to enjoy in the nearby area and a person could spend a month here and not see it all. Get here soon to enjoy the most you can; maybe starting with Hootin' an Hollarin at Gainseville September 17-19. Crafts, music, and food for all so ya'll come on down and commence ta havin' fun, y'hear?

One more festival: Turkey Trot in Yellville, Arkansas. On the second Friday and Saturday of October (that's the 9th and 10th this year) Yellville hosts people from all over as they participate in the annual Turkey Trot festival. A parade, food, music, and the crowning of Miss Turkey Trot and Miss Drumstick in the beauty pageants highlight the festivities. Or maybe you want to try your hand at calling a turkey? The National Wild Turkey Calling Contest resides right here so you can go against the best in the world here or just sit back and listen. After a while them turkeys come a-callin'! Who knows, maybe the Phantom Flyer will arrive again, dropping turkeys from the sky for all to catch.

Don't worry, they can fly a bit!

Legend has it that Frank Bonner, who played Herb the slick salesman told the writers about the festival and they worked it into perhaps one of the funniest moments in sitcom history. Watch for yourself and judge. Me? I watch it and try to not pee my pants!


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    • Mr Archer profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr Archer 

      3 years ago from Missouri

      Deb, I don't know. When we get to attend this year I will ask those who grow and see. I do know we are looking forward to the next few weeks! Come and see what Missouri has to offer sometime; we visit Oklahoma now and again. I officially invite you to visit. Take care!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Perhaps you can answer this question. Will fruit and veggies that large be edible, or fibrous? This sounds like one heck of a month. I know someone that likes to go to Branson regularly for the shows. I have not yet been to MO, other than when I went through it to move here and saw the arches.

    • Mr Archer profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr Archer 

      3 years ago from Missouri

      We plan on it Sir! Will we be seeing you in October at the Grape and Fall Festival? If so, look forward to meeting you face to face! Take care, Sir. And many thanks.

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 

      3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      What fun! Enjoy every chance you get!! ;-)

    • Mr Archer profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr Archer 

      3 years ago from Missouri

      Venkatachari, thank you for your comment. I will do my best to attend all that are possible! Wings would be a nice addition. Take care!

      Cheyenne, Apple Butter is one of those curious delicacies. Let me know how your's turns out ok? And yes, once we attend I will supply an overview of them, either as another hub or as an update to this one. I was reminded a bit ago that this weekend is the Maker's Fair in Springfield. There will all sorts of things there to see and possibly purchase from crafts to robots and beyond. Basically, anyone who is a "maker" can rent booth space and show off. My son is excited to go see what kind of robotic things there are there. And yes both he and I might enter a few contests over the next few weeks and see how we stack up against the local competition! Results to follow!! Have a great day in sunny Florida and watch out for the stray hurricane!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      3 years ago from Central Florida

      Wow, so much to do! I would love every one of the festivals in your area. Fiddlin', car shows, and fun for all.

      As you know, my mom was born and raised in Kennett, Missouri. She makes apple butter - at least she used to when we were little. She's got two recipes, both of which she's handed down to me. One is the apple butter most of us are familiar with, but my favorite is her Mountain Apple Butter recipe. It's darker and a bit more dense in texture. So good! I'll have to try my hand at it. Apple butter is one of my favorite bread toppings.

      I can't wait to read the hubs you'll undoubtedly write pursuant to your attendance. Will your little guy participate in the bubble gum blowing contest? Or pie eating? It should be a hoot. Take lots of pix, Mike!

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      3 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very interesting and amazing festivals all around the world. You can participate each day at one or two festivals, if only one has the wings to fly.

      Thanks for sharing these interesting celebrations.

    • Mr Archer profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr Archer 

      3 years ago from Missouri

      I always thought Olympia was much larger than that, Bill. That's about the same as Joplin so I can see a small town vibe there. I am stoked to have this schedule laid out for the next few weekends, enjoying this with my family! It's gonna be a blast!! Take care of yourself my friend. How are your chickens doing? I've got a person here who sells me farm fresh green and blue eggs for $1.50 a dozen and they are SO good! Love this small town life!! :-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I love small their their traditions. I'm amazed I didn't end up in a small town but really Olympia is only 50,000 and it feels small...guess that's as good as it will get for this boy. :)

    • Mr Archer profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr Archer 

      3 years ago from Missouri

      Thumb yes it is!! Huge isn't it? Thanks for the read and comment. Take care.

      Larry I know how you feel. And as this shows so many take place in a small amount of time and even on the same weekends. But we will pick a few to visit and enjoy ourselves immensely. Here's hoping you do as well. Stay safe Sir.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      I love small town festivals. The main obstacle is finding time to get to them.

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 

      3 years ago from India

      Wow! Is it a real pumpkin. It is huge.

      It will be fun to be in the festival



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