By Katie Benfield
This Saturday, Oct. 17, the Newland Business Association and area businesses will be hosting Newland’s inaugural Pumpkin Festival from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. at Riverwalk Park.
In order to celebrate Greater Newland’s harvest season, the festival will provide several events for this fun-filled day, including but not limited to: a family and school scarecrow making contest, a Native American presentation by Hawks Nest Unified Tribe, story-telling, hayrides, local and Native American artists and craft vendors, the Best Pumpkin Costume contest, food and beverages, live bluegrass and Celtic music and so much more. Along with this, Downtown Scarecrows are up on Newland Lamp Post, and awards for the first, second and third places for business scarecrows will be announced at 4 p.m. at the Pumpkin Festival.
According to NBA member Steve York, the association was approached by the Hawks Nest Unified Tribe with the intention of setting up their non-profit organization in Newland and in need of support.
“We were happy to do that,” York said. “The Native American culture is just as big of a part of our culture and traditions in the High Country as anything else.”
The Pumpkin Festival will be rich with Native American music, culture, story-telling and a variety of other things — which is only one thing that separates this festival from the other many Harvest Season festivals around the High Country.
“It’s something very unique that we have,” York said. “It’s really something that’s going to make our festival contribute to the season.”
Having Native Americans involved in the festival only makes the celebration of the Harvest Season all the more exciting and genuine. Celebrating the fruits of the labor from throughout the year, York said, is what it’s really all about.
“Harvest Season is a big deal for us, considering we live in a community that is largely agriculturally driven,” York said. “Harvest Season is so traditional, and this area of the state is steeped in cultural traditions.”
The NBA decided to host an event like this for two reasons. For one, it was approached by local law enforcement with the proposal that they plan some kind of event for this weekend — the same weekend where the Wooly Worm Festival and the like occurs — due to traffic congestion. They were hoping that planning an event like this would help spread and scatter the traffic in order to reduce congestion and the majority of people all being in one place at one time.
The other reason, and the more important one, is to bring community and attention to the Greater Newland area. All of the communities and towns involved in Greater Newland do not have their own chamber of commerce, and in order to spread the culture and joy of their communities, the NBA tries to hold as many events as possible to make life as beautiful as possible.
“We’re hoping to involve not only the locals, but also tourists, as well,” York said. “We are excited to draw people in to experience the beauty and culture of the lives of the High Country.
“This is new for Newland, and we are just excited to contribute to the Harvest Season festivals that the High Country is so noted for.”