This year marks the 30th anniversary of Anamosa, Iowa being named the Pumpkin Capital of Iowa. The town hosts Pumpkinfest every year, says executive director of the Anamosa Chamber, Blair Lawton. They smash cars, toss pumpkins, carve pumpkins, smoke pumpkins, roll pumpkins, but get this: you can test your pumpkin agility skills using big construction equipment! (With supervision of course) That’s crazy!
The Anamosa Pumpkinfest originally began as a tribute to Ryan Norlin after his passing. Norlin died young and his parents wanted to do something in his honor. Because he had a love for pumpkins, they started with a small pumpkin weigh-off competition. But the event has substantially grown and recognized state-wide.
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Summary: Interview with Blair Lawton.
Blair Lawton, Executive Director of the Anamosa Chamber of Commerce, shed light on the evolution and significance of Anamosa’s annual Pumpkin Fest. Celebrating its 30th anniversary as the “Pumpkin Capital of Iowa,” Lawton said, “It’s always a good selling point that we can use throughout the year to kind of keep that constant drumbeat, keep that excitement going.”
The festival originated as a pumpkin weigh-off to honor Ryan Norland, who passed away in a boating accident. “Pumpkins were something that Ryan really loved, that he would grow them with his uncle,” Lawton explained. Over three decades, the festival has expanded to 18 events, including a pumpkin roll and toss for children, and a barbecue contest dubbed “Smoking Pumpkins.”
A unique feature is the “Boomerang Equipment Rodeo,” which Lawton described as, “a good opportunity for folks to get a little taste of what construction’s all about.” The festival also boasts a state record for the largest pumpkin, weighing 2,424 pounds, and offers over $20,000 in prize money across various categories.
New additions this year include a dunk tank, a mobile history museum, and a haunted house named the “Temple of Doom.” Lawton emphasized community involvement, stating, “We’ve got a lot of volunteers that are putting these events together.” The Pumpkin Fest stands as a testament to Anamosa’s community spirit, creativity, and unity.