Every October since 1996, Downtown Cortland has been transformed into a vibrant, outdoor fall festival when The Great Cortland Pumpkinfest arrives in Historic Courthouse Park. The two-day event has been one of the county's most highly-anticipated fall celebrations, a family-friendly experience that has become a favorite for locals and visitors alike.
The 4th Best Fall Festival in the United States, as voted on by the USA Today 10Best Reader's Choice Awards, is kicking off at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5th, and continues at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 6th.
If you're looking for a fun and memorable way to spend a fall weekend in Cortland County, your search has ended. Here are five top reasons why Cortland's Pumpkinfest is a can't-miss event...
PUMPKINS, PUMPKINS AND MORE PUMPKINS
Not only will everyone's favorite fall décor be displayed throughout the park, but you can also purchase your first of the season to bring home with you.
If you're feeling creative, try your hand at the Pumpkin Decorating Contest sponsored by Trinity Valley Dairy Farm. Individuals and groups are encouraged to channel their inner Van Gogh, and decorate a pumpkin to resemble a favorite character from books, films, TV or music. Drop them off at the Kids' Zone between 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5 as judging will take place at Noon. Winners will be announced at 12:45 p.m. at the Main Stage at the east end of the park. Don't forget to pick up your pumpkin by 3 p.m. the following day to take home as a spooktacular keepsake.
Pumpkinfest would not be complete without the annual craft show. The maxed out vendor list this year will feature over 100 vendors and artists selling items including holiday decorations, jewelry, clothing, photography, wood crafts and just about everything in between.
Businesses that will be sharing their beautiful handmade crafts with guests include, but are not limited to Aspen Poole (jewelry), Vernon Kennedy (wooden products) and Kacey Weeks (vinyl, cups and shirts). Local author, Airian Eastman, will also be on hand to share her work with guests.
It's a "shopportunity" you don't want to miss!
ACTIVITIES FOR ALL AGES
Kids can enjoy quintessential autumn activities like hayrides, carnival games and pony rides both days of the festival.
The Kids' Zone will keep the little ones entertained for hours with fall-inspired activities like ghost bowling, and pumpkin bean bag toss. Free pony rides are always a Pumpkinfest favorite, or take a family hayride around the park. Tickets are available at the information tent for $1/person (maximum $5/family); children five and under ride for free. Don't forget to dip, loop and swerve at the carnival-style midway, courtesy of Ontario Amusements.
For those a little too old to take part in the children's activities, swing by the Wine & Blooms pop up tent to create a Faux Succulent Pumpkin for your holiday dinner table, dorm room or front porch step. The beginner workshop will be located just outside the Kids' Zone area.
Live entertainment will be performed throughout both days of the festival featuring music for all tastes. From Country to Classic Rock, Bluegrass to Funk, you name it, Pumpkinfest has got it.
Saturday, Oct. 5th
10 a.m. SUNY Cortland Musical Theatre Program
11:30 a.m. James Vandeuson II
1 p.m. Fall Creek Brass Band
2:30 p.m. Lucky Old Son
4 p.m. Tribal Revival
Sunday, Oct. 6th
10:30 a.m. Von Barnes Band
12 p.m. Kitestring
1:30 p.m. Big Soul Family Band
3 p.m. Tailor Made
PUMPKIN SPICE & EVERYTHING NICE
If you're hungry or thirsty, you're sure to find something at The Great Cortland Pumpkinfest.
First things first, grab yourself a cup of Pumpkin Chai at the information booth along with a Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Scone, both graciously provided by Coffee Mania. If you really want to get your taste buds moving, try a heaping plate of cheese and bacon fries from The Spud Shack, or a rich, cheesy bowl of mac and cheese at Macarollin'. Don't forget to make your rounds at the Cortland Crush Dog House, MoMo's Traveling Café, Fat Jack's BBQ and M&D Deli.
Save room for the sweet stuff, like warm Apple Crisp from Dee Dee's Ice Cream Shop, or homemade kettle corn from Lulu's. Cortland County's very own, Three Lil Birds Cakery and Sinfully Sweet Café, will also be serving delicious goodness, along with Sweet Sugar Lips Ice Cream Shop.
If you're looking for a hearty bite before the festivities begin, stop by the Grace Episcopal Church on Saturday between 7 a.m. - 11 a.m. for Loaves and Fishes Pancake Breakfast. Admission is $15 for a family, $5 for adults, $3 for 5-11 years of age and four and under eat free.
Feeling parched after tasting all the fall-themed treats? Those 21 and over can hop over to the Pumpkin Pub for a beverage. The bar is cash only so don't forget to stop at the ATM before attending the festival.
For all those aspiring bakers, enter the Autumn Harvest Baking Contest hosted by the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Cortland County. Deliver your entries between 11 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. on Saturday to the CCE booth with the recipe and registration form attached. Judging will begin at Noon to find the county's best autumn baked good.
If you have any questions, stop by the Pumpinkfest information tent, located near the Courthouse Fountain on Church Street. Staff will not only be serving the delicious Coffee Mania! treats, but have tidbits about the festival, plus merchandise and hayride tickets.
Share your Pumpkinfest adventures with us for a chance to be featured! Tag @experiencecortland and use hashtag #experiencecortland.