Shorter days, crisp nights, vividly colored leaves, forlorn corn stalks in fields and plump orange pumpkins — you guessed it: fall in Skagit County.
And those bright orange orbs are mighty important to the city of Burlington and the Burlington Chamber of Commerce, co-sponsors of the annual Burlington Harvest Festival and Pumpkin Pitch on Saturday, Sept. 29, at Skagit River Park, 1100 S. Skagit St.
Among the fall- and harvest-themed activities held in late September and October each year locally, the Burlington festival ranks right up near the top of the must-attend fun events, according to Nancy Rytand, Burlington Chamber of Commerce director of development.
“It’s a great event and it’s so easy to get there,” Rytand said.
Burlington Parks and Recreation coordinator Christi Kinney said she is confident the festival will show visitors a “smashing” good time, as the five teams entered in the Pumpkin Pitch will compete to see whose trebuchet can hurl a pumpkin the farthest. The competition area will be open between 11 a.m. to noon so attendees can greet the teams and take a close look at their engineering marvels, she said.
Each team is allowed three throws for accuracy, immediately followed by three throws for distance. After the points are tallied, awards will be presented to the winners. Then a shower of candy will send kids scrambling for treats.
Two teams are entered in the Heavyweight Division: Squash-o-Fire and Gourdinator.
Squash-o-Fire captain Fred Smethers estimates his team can pitch at least one of its pumpkins about 1,500 feet, the farthest of any of the teams. Ken Fritsch, Gourdinator captain, estimates his team can hurl a pumpkin 900 or more feet.
One team is entered in the Middleweight Division. Black HURL is led by captain Aaron Young of Burlington, whose team brings plenty of experience and the capability to pitch its pumpkins 700 feet or more. Young was previously a member of teams UFO and Treb-asaurus.
The Lightweight Division features Mixed Nuts Jr. and Drill Sargent.
Bob Peterson of Everett is the team captain for Mixed Nuts Jr. He estimates his team can reach a distance of 400 feet.
Drill Sargent is led by Robert Maitland of Langley, B.C. While Maitland is traveling the farthest to compete, his estimated pitch distance is the shortest — just 250 feet.
The Kids Zone will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; admission is free. Zucchini car races, a pie-eating contest and pumpkin cookie-making are among the kid-friendly events. “They have worked really hard getting a pumpkin bouncy house and more activities this year,” Kinney said.
“We are expecting a great turnout again. We had over 5,000 people last year and expect to exceed that this year,” Rytand said.
No parking will be allowed in Skagit River Park’s south lot this year. Instead, visitors are asked to use the South Skagit Street entrance and lot at the north end of the park. The city will run three shuttles between the north parking lot and the south festival site.