Martin Martinez grew up around the corner, so the now 28-year-old has watched the annual Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival grow.
“I’d say it’s grown five times what it was when I was a kid,” Martinez said.
Martinez moved to Sarasota with his wife Isabella, who also grew up in Bradenton, and the two still visit the festival each year.
This is the 32nd annual pumpkin festival. Back when the Martinezes were kids, the ponies were the main attraction and there were no food trucks. Now, the kids can ride camels and there’s a snack to satiate any sweet or salty craving.
Parrish residents Alicia Greenhaw and Eva Gilmore grabbed some fried pickles and a giant blooming onion after their shift at the Pepsi booth. The pair volunteered as members of the Future Farmers of America club and were free to enjoy the festival after.
There’s plenty to do between live music, stunt shows and animal experiences. Not everything is included in the $15 admission because exhibits like the butterfly experience are brought in by outside vendors.
But the staple of any pumpkin or fall festival is the hayride, and those are included in admission. The corn maze and train rides cost an extra $2 per person. The festival runs on Saturdays and Sundays through the end of the month.