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Carving out a new tradition: Waimea Pumpkin Patch Fall Festival coming to District Park Oct. 14

October 5, 2017 - 12:45am

WAIMEA — Hay rides, petting zoos and pumpkins are synonymous with fall festivals.

This year, people from around the island can check out a new celebration in North Hawaii: the Waimea Pumpkin Patch Fall Festival.

The free event will replace past pumpkin events at Hawaii Preparatory Academy and Kohala Educational Farm. Planned and funded by Waimea Preservation Association (WPA), hundreds of pumpkins of all sizes will be displayed at Waimea District Park from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 14, in addition to numerous activities and booths.

WPA members Bill Sanborn and Donni Sheather came up with the idea four months ago.

“It will be an annual celebration of Waimea’s autumn harvest and season,” Sheather said. “Its purpose is to support and promote Waimea’s agrarian community, lifestyle and its rural neighbors.”

Activities will range from carnival games, pony rides, face painting, a petting zoo, pie contests and food trucks to educational and informational booths, handmade crafts, vendors and live entertainment including Waimea’s own Darlene Ahuna. The Waimea Fire Department and EMTs will also display their trucks.

Goods sold at the event will not be duplicated.

“We want each vendor to be able to make the most of their dollar,” Sheather said. “We just don’t want people to lose out so we convinced people to do other things.”

Tickets will be sold in monetary amounts of $1, $5 and $10 to be used at the various booths. Sheather estimates around 1,200 people will attend the inaugural fall festival event.

Pumpkins will be supplied by farmers Sam Robinson and Noah Dodd in Lakeland, others from a new pumpkin patch planted in August by local children as a Hawaii Isle Police Activities League project in Waimea and an additional supply from Rincon Farms Waimea.

Community service booths will include Family Service Hawaii, Alex and Duke DeRego Foundation, Rotary of North Hawaii, Human Trafficking Coalition, Rescue Food Program, KARES (Kohala Animal Rescue Relocation &Educational Services) and the Domestic Violence Advocate Committee (DVAC).

“DVAC is looking for ways to raise funds to support future projects, such as a victim navigator that would help victims get away safely, filing TROs, counseling and housing to legal help,” Community Police Officer May Lee said.

“We also want to fund a project to print discreet information cards that might assist a victim looking for help,” she continued. “The pumpkin festival is a perfect venue because October is national domestic violence awareness month. DVAC is focused on helping victims in Waimea as there are currently no resources available. Victims currently need to go to Hilo or Kona to get any assistance.”

DVAC will have both an indoor and outdoor booth.

“The one outside will have baked items for sale to support future projects,” Lee said. “The booth inside will have information on domestic violence. We also will have a memorial display for people to buy a candle and ribbon in remembrance of someone they lost to domestic violence or is maybe currently in a domestic situation. We will have T-shirts and balloons for sale as well.”

Both Lee and Officer Thomas Koyanagi will be at the indoor booth to answer questions and provide information.

The fall festival will primarily benefit nonprofits.

“Essentially, WPA is trying to umbrella nonprofits for the alignment of being able to collectively do things together and it’s our hope that over time that’s going to bring the community closer together,” Sheather said. “It’s about understanding what all of the nonprofits’ purposes are and want to accomplish. The WPA’s role is really just to make the structure work with the District Park.”

Funding wasn’t easy to launch the event, but WPA members were