SYCAMORE – A giant cake popping with pumpkins attracted dozens of people wanting to get a slice Wednesday.
Enough of them had gathered in Sycamore that some parents decided to shoulder the weight of their children
so they could glimpse the cake that marked the opening ceremony of the 52nd annual Sycamore Pumpkin Festival.
Only Savanna Dean got the first slice. Savanna’s “Pumpkin Adventures” became the theme of the festival, and her mother, Cindy, was happy for her daughter, who came to the festival in a cowgirl costume.
“It’s very exciting for all of us,” Cindy Dean said. “I’m very proud.”
While Savanna managed to win one contest of the festival, dozens of other people came to the festival’s opening ceremony Wednesday in hopes of winning another contest – the pumpkin display. The festival was inspired by Wally Thurow, affectionately called “Mr. Pumpkin,” who used to show decorated pumpkins on his lawn in the 1950s.
Thurow was able to get the Sycamore Lions Club to sponsor the first festival as a way of channeling the creativity of children in the city with a pumpkin display contest.
The people who brought pumpkins of their own creation Wednesday had populated the lawn of the DeKalb County Courthouse with them. Their pumpkins were submitted in categories such as “Happy and Fancy” or “Weird, Ugly and Scary,” among others.
Sycamore resident Sarah Davis entered the “Weird, Ugly and Scary” category that featured a pumpkin chomping on a smaller pumpkin wearing a pained expression.
“It took about an hour and half, maybe,” she said. “And we used a lot of toothpicks.”
Former Sycamore resident Lauren Boryc’s sons, Jack and Timothy, displayed several pumpkins for the contest, which were submitted into the “Pumpkin Adventures” theme category. The tagline for one of Jack’s pumpkins was “May the Adventure be With You.”
“Jack is really into Star Wars and Angry Birds, so we decided to tie it into Pumpkin Adventures theme,” Lauren Boryc said.
Outside of a few concerns about the possibility of snow or rain early in the afternoon, the festival was shaping up to be a good one for Jerry Malmassari, Sycamore Pumpkin Festival president. He said the turnout seemed similar to past festivals.
“I think as you walk around you just hear the families talking,” he said. “… it’s really terrific to see the community come out and get involved like this.”
The giant cake was created by decorators from Hy-Vee and is the first time the Sycamore-based store has contributed one for this year’s festival. The cake, which was expected to feed more than 1,000 people, took about five hours to make and involved four decorators, said Joe Bauer, Hy-Vee bakery manager.
It was an honor for Hy-Vee employees to participate in it, he said.
“I’ve been to the [Sycamore Pumpkin Festival] for a couple of years now and just to see what goes on and see how many people show up down here is amazing to watch,” he said.
Today’s Pumpkin Festival schedule
• Sycamore Kiwanis will host a prayer breakfast at 7 a.m. at Sycamore United Methodist Church, 160 Johnson Ave.
• Pumpkin displays can be viewed on the lawn of the DeKalb County Courthouse on State Street.
• A free pumpkin celebration will begin at Sycamore Public Library from 7 to 8 p.m. Children in kindergarten through fifth grade can enjoy games, Miss Megan’s Pumpkin Storytime and treats.
• Entries close for the Sycamore Golf Club Scramble, which will be held Saturday. Call 815-895-3884 to register.
For a complete list of events, visit shawurl.com/u6a.