Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival inspires new generation of growers

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HARTSBURG - The Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival is celebrating its 27th year with traditions like live music and picking your own pumpkin.

Young pumpkin picker Morgan Sutton said she likes the different varieties you can find in a field as opposed to at a store.

“There’s so much to look at. There’s green and different colors, like white ones, orange ones and green ones,” she said.

Sutton said she thought she had a lot of contenders for the perfect pumpkin this year. Some festival-goers were concerned the drought may affect this year's crop, but farmer Landon Nahler said the lack of rain didn't dampen his growing season.

“Pumpkins like drier weather as they’re maturing," he said. "This year we had the later rain that we wish we would have had earlier for other crops. And there’s quite a few rotten ones, but that’s just part of it.”

Nahler has been working the patch for about a decade, but planting for much longer.

“I started doing stuff like this when I was a kid," Nahler said. "It’s a lot easier if you start younger.”

Nahler knows not everyone grew up planting. He uses the Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival not just to sell, but to teach.

“It’s mostly for the kids, so they know that stuff doesn’t just come from the store," Nahler said. "There's probably a lot of kids in town that think everything just comes from the grocery store, that’s where they make it at.”