Oct. 5—GOSHEN — There's still time to prepare a pumpkin for a beloved Middlebury fall tradition.
The Middlebury Pumpkin Race will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday, but the Pit Row and judging begin at 2 p.m. and food vendors will open at 12:30 p.m. Registration for the event is free and can be done the day-of, but some work is needed ahead for anyone who wants to participate.
"It's just something fun for families to do in Middlebury," said Middlebury Then and Now volunteer Darla Kauffman.
The Middlebury Then and Now Committee developed the event several years ago as one of many ways to encourage community within the town and surrounding areas.
"This is our largest event of the year and the one that takes the most organization, work, volunteers," Kauffman said. "There's a lot of excitement. Will they go down the hill, will they not? Will they crash into the haybales? You never know."
The Middlebury Pumpkin Race consists of hundreds of pumpkins being raced down the West Warren Street hill, similar to a box car derby, but for pumpkins. As a result, a special set of axles and wheels are needed to ensure the pumpkin can have as smooth a ride as possible.
Racers must purchase an official racing kit from Varns & Hoover in Middlebury which includes axles, wheels, and other items specially designed to make a pumpkin into a racing mobile for about $25. Those that have racing kits purchased in previous years are welcome to use old kits. The Pit Row can help with the assembly of wheels if needed, although pumpkins must be decorated beforehand.
Racing pumpkins should also be decorated with paint, stickers, carving, or other embellishments.
There will be several heats for the two races: individual/family/friends, and corporate/civic groups. Heats are set up with four to five racers per heat. As many as 100 pumpkins and 300 spectators are expected for this fifth year of pumpkin racing in downtown Middlebury.
Cash prizes will be awarded for categories including cutest, most original, and most spirited team.
This year, the first-place regular category race winner gets to choose from a list of local charities to donate to and those nonprofits will be onsite during the race for folks to learn more about. Any sponsorship funds in excess of the event's expenses will go toward the donation to one of Elkhart County's many nonprofit organizations that serve children and families.
Nonprofits that may be selected are Stable Grounds, Loveway, Safe Kids of Elkhart Couty, Ryan's Place, ADEC, Horizon Education Alliance, Partnership for Children of Elkhart County, and The Window of Goshen.
Sponsors for the pumpkin race are the Bontrager Family Foundation, First Source Bank, Community Foundation of Elkhart County, Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Grand Design RV, Edward Jones, Culver Duck Farm, Legacy Home Furniture, Interra Credit Union, Old Hoosier Meats, Jayco, and First United Methodist Church.
Dani Messick is the education and entertainment reporter for The Goshen News. She can be reached at email@example.com or at 574-538-2065.