Return of Zeeland Pumpkinfest generates ‘amazing response’

Crowds filled downtown Zeeland as families and friends gathered to enjoy the return of the city’s annual Pumpkinfest celebration.

The cherished fall festival, in its 35th year, took place Friday and Saturday, Oct. 1 and 2, with a “Barnyard Bash” theme. Sidewalks were decorated with pumpkins and wooden farm animals painted by local artists and community groups.

Kids who attended Pumpkinfest enjoyed having their faces painted, climbing on inflatables, riding a barrel train, and playing a variety of fall yard games, including bowling with pumpkins.
Standing along a downtown street, waiting for a barrel train full of excited children to return, Cathy Williamson summed up her feelings in one word: “Finally.”

The Holland resident was happy to have a local festival back once again. “It’s just nice,” she says.

Williamson had missed the traditional Tulip Time parades amid the pandemic and looked forward to watching the Pumpkinfest parade.

‘Amazing response’

Jenelle Ensing, director of Zeeland Festivals, shared her gratitude for the “amazing response” she received from vendors once word spread that the fall festival would take place in 2021. Event planning typically begins in January, she said, but this year it began in early summer. Almost as soon as news of the festival’s planned return hit social media, Ensing heard from many residents and businesses interested in participating by offering food or entertainment.

She says she was glad to see beautiful weather and so many people in attendance.

“It’s just great to have that reminder that we do have these events,” Ensing says.

New for Pumpkinfest 2021 were puppet shows and “Music on Main” concerts, an extension of the live music events hosted throughout the summer by the city of Zeeland. “Pretty Rage” performed Friday, followed by “Dunegrass,” “Catfish and the Man,” and “Rock Shop” on Saturday.

New for Pumpkinfest 2021 were puppet shows and “Music on Main” concerts, an extension of the live music events hosted throughout the summer by the city of Zeeland.
Kids who attended Pumpkinfest enjoyed having their faces painted, climbing on inflatables, riding a barrel train, and playing a variety of fall yard games, including bowling with pumpkins.

Family-friendly

A traditional pet costume contest drew a group of colorfully dressed animals and their owners, along with a crowd of eager onlookers. Some owners dressed up to match their pets. Costumes ranged from a dog with glowing red spider eyes to rabbits toted in a harvest-themed wagon.

Libby Piotrzkowski, of Holland, participated for the first time with her dog, Jasper. The Great Pyrenees, a large dog that normally has fluffy white fur, was awash in color, dressed as a unicorn. Piotrzkowski recruited her family to help in coloring Jasper with special comb-in hair chalk.

Libby Piotrzkowski, of Holland, participated in the Pumpkinfest pet costume contest for the first time with her dog, Jasper. The Great Pyrenees, a large dog that normally has fluffy white fur, was awash in color, dressed as a unicorn.

“I just gave my kids each a comb and we went to town,” she said. “He doesn’t mind at all. He’s the most chill dog ever.”

Piotrzkowski’s 9-year-old daughter, Eden, helped guide Jasper across the competition stage.

“It’s nice to have something outdoors we can do as a family,” Piotrzkowski said of the festival.