Hart’s Farm continues fall tradition with 20th annual Pumpkin Festival

Sep. 27, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

After 20 years, the reasons why people keep coming to the Hart’s Farm for the Pumpkin Festival are largely the same — bluegrass music, world-class cloggers, mud-slinging, tractor pulling, a wild west show and tasty food.

The festival begins Saturday morning and runs through Sunday evening at the farm just outside of Goldston. It is the main fundraising event for the South Chatham Ruritan Club, which sponsors the festival.

“Each year, we try to bring a little something different to the festival, but the core activities of the festival have remained the same and keep people coming back,” said Duane Hart, who started the festival. “It’s a great opportunity to be outside and enjoy the events, as well as being out on the farm. We try to have a little something for everyone, and the formula has worked for us.”

For Bluegrass music lovers, Saturday afternoon will showcase Al Batten and the Bluegrass Reunion. The group formed in 1972 with banjo-picker Batten of Shoeheel and David Turnage of Wilson’s Mill on guitar. Over the years, the band has had four personnel changes, including Johnny Ridge of Mebane on fiddle and Mike Aldridge of Saxaphaw on mandolin. The group has won numerous awards and performed at festivals and other venues all along the Eastern Seaboard.The group’s  most popular request is for “Always Marry an Ugly Girl.” They will perform at 1 and 3 p.m.

Rounding out the music for the afternoon will be the Walters Family, a family bluegrass gospel group. They will take the stage at 2 and 4 p.m.

Reenactments will be performed by Mitch Toney, Bob Toney and friends — and they will include a real stagecoach and horses. Also, performances of rope tricks and whip snapping will round out the wild-west show that will take place throughout the day Saturday. A number of wanted suspects will be rounded up out of the crowd and locked up in the onsite jail until some kind soul will pay the fee to have them released. All revenues collected from the incarcerations will be used by the Ruritan Club to fund the scholarships at Chatham Central High School and other community projects.

Across the farm while the music is under way, a CATPA-sanctioned tractor pull will test man and machine along the muddy track in various weight classes. All pullers are welcome and can register at the event that starts at 1 p.m.

The Little Miss Pumpkin and the Pumpkin Princess pageants will be held at 3:45 p.m. and are open to all girls ages 3-9. Winners are invited to ride on the float in the Goldston Christmas Parade. Contestants are encouraged to register by 3:30 p.m.

At dusk, jack-o-lanterns will be lighted and a movie will be shown. To have a jack-o-lantern on display, patrons will need to purchase and carve it earlier in the day.

Activities for children will include farm animals, inflatable games and more.

Sunday afternoon, high in the trees will be the acrobatic aerialist group Flair.

A little closer to the ground, the Apple Chill Cloggers from Chapel Hill will perform. The group, formed in 1975, is dedicated to the performance, preservation and proliferation of music and dance from the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

Music Sunday afternoon will include the Lonesome Dove Bluegrass band and the newly formed Tron Family Band.

At about 2 p.m. Sunday, anyone with a mud truck can register to enter the annual mud sling, where drivers pit their driving skills against the deep lane of mud they must get through in record time to go home with bragging rights. Drivers have found that it isn’t the best-looking truck that can get through without having to be hauled out of the mud.

Along the perimeter of the farm, heritage crafts and activities including a working saw mill, soap making, molasses making, corn mill grinding, apple cider pressing and multiple other items will be on display. Along the outer perimeter, vendors will offer a wide range of merchandise for sale such as license plates, belt buckles, handbags, jewelry and other items.

Food at the event will include pinto beans, barbecue, hot dogs, hamburgers, funnel cakes and fresh frozen ice cream in multiple flavors, offered by the Goldston Lions Club.

Gates open at 10 a.m. Saturday and noon Sunday. Admission is $5 per person with children age four and under free. Parking is free. The Pumpkin Farm is located at 885 Meronies Church Road, about five miles northeast of Goldston. For more information, contact Duane Hart at (919) 837-5363.