The Proof is in the Pumpkins!
Imagine yourself in the year 1983 and downtown Franklin, Tennessee is on the verge of great revitalization. The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, Tennessee’s first Main Street Festival has just occurred back in the spring, and now the leaves are changing colors and an unmistakable autumnal crispness is in the air. It was time for another first to occur in downtown Franklin, Pumpkinfest.
Fast forward 20 years, Pumpkinfest is celebrating 20 years along Franklin’s historic Main Street and local businessman Ace Wilson has just started his local kettle corn business. His first experience with a downtown Franklin festival was St. Patrick’s Day 2004, and it was a success. After that, he was hooked and has been exhibiting at all the Franklin festivals ever since, including the Heritage Foundation’s Main Street Festival in April, Pumpkinfest in October, and Dickens of a Christmas in December.
Although Ace and his famed kettle corn are now a staple at all of Franklin’s downtown festivals, Pumpkinfest has his heart. “Pumpkinfest is probably the best event we do… it’s the top October festival that I know of, by far – and I’ve done [festivals] all across the state.” Obviously, his kettle corn is a perfect fit for the time of year and this event too. He initially started with one kettle at the festival, then went to two – then traded in those two for a larger set and even sometimes breaks out a third! When you visit this year’s Pumpkinfest make sure to find Ace’s stand, as you can imagine his kettle corn goes fast!
Ace isn’t the only one that loves Pumpkinfest either, a lot of others do too - about 65,000 others to be exact. Pumpkinfest, presented by Jackson, is now the largest fall festival in Middle Tennessee! A number of events for people (and pets!) of all ages at Pumpkinfest have become fan favorites over the years and they will be back again this year. Some of those include live music and entertainment; a dedicated Kids Zone sponsored by the local Church of the City; more than 100 artisan and craft vendors; extreme pumpkin carving and two new beer gardens, presented in partnership with local brewery Mantra Artisan Ales. When you come don't forget to don those costumes as well. There will be contests – both for people and pets sponsored by MARS Petcare. Your pups a certain to have a great time as well, as Franklin is the pilot city for MARS Petcare's national Better Cities For Pets initiative!
While Charlie Brown and friends may not have found their Great Pumpkin, Franklin’s Great Pumpkin star of the weekend arrives each year from its sister city of Carleton Place, Canada! The Great Pumpkin might be the biggest but certainly won’t be the only pumpkin you see around downtown Franklin during the festival. I mean, it wouldn’t be much of a Pumpkinfest with only one now would it?
Remember Ace and his kettle corn? Well, when not satisfying people’s sweet tooth Ace runs Wilson Family Farm just outside of Franklin and supplies a dozen different varieties of pumpkins, straw bales, and cornstalks for décor throughout downtown Franklin during the festival. Ace notes, “I’ve been able to make a living doing what I love, and the Heritage Foundation and the Williamson County community have done a lot to help make that happen.”
After you finish your day at Pumpkinfest, complete an ultimate fall weekend in Franklin with a visit over to Ace’s Wilson Family Farm and experience the hayrides around the property, an 8.5-acre corn maze, pumpkin cannons that shoot pumpkins (almost 500 yards!), sunflowers and zinnias for staged photos, autumn decorations for purchase – and of course, Ace’s Kettle Corn! If you are a little thirsty after all the family fun on the farm, you are just miles from Arrington Vineyards and their wines that pair perfectly with the iconic fall sunsets you can take in from the hilltop.
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Pumpkinfest? Let us know in the comments below!