The Fruitville Grove Pumpkin Festival runs every weekend in October.
Terry White always has plenty to do during each year's Pumpkin Fest at the Fruitville Grove.
White, who owns the farm area with his wife Kim, jokes that his responsibilities for the monthlong festival usually include whatever his wife tells him to do. That can include preparing the array of pumpkins, welcoming people into the festival, driving the hay ride and even helping set up the maze.
The 33rd annual Pumpkin Festival has a variety of activities for visitors each weekend that range from games, food trucks, picking up pumpkins, going on pony rides, face painting, petting goats and piglets at the petting zoo and more. White is constantly moving and helping out but says the enthusiasm from kids and families is what puts a pep in his step.
"(I love) seeing the enjoyment the kids have," White said. "Seeing someone go 'Look at the baby goat!' or 'Look at the train ride!' They're so happy, and it just makes you melt."
At 2 p.m. each Sunday in October, though, Terry helps with a particularly fun task. Terry and Kim oversee a costume contest.
Families converged on a small (shaded) area near the petting zoo at the festival to showcase their creativity. Some families went as a Beauty and the Beast father/daughter combo, while others like Bradenton resident Arieyana Nichols — a self-professed Halloween fan at her first Pumpkin Fest – took her daughter Arizmae wearing a Native American costume.
Valorie Stavile brought 7-year-old Farah and 1-year-old Mikey with a particularly mischievous theme. Mikey went as a pint-sized Chucky complete with drawn-on freckles and a threatening rubber knife, while Farah went as the titular Bride of Chucky.
"We love that movie," Valorie said. "And (Mikey) is the perfect size, it's so fun."
"I like when Chucky dies," Farah said. "His head pops off."
White led the contest and had each child say who they were and show off their costumes to onlookers and family. It was tough to pick a winner in the end, so White decided everyone won and would get a small pumpkin as a prize.
"I'm impressed by all (the costumes)," White said. "I saw two little dinosaurs walking by which was hilarious, I've never seen so many princesses in my life … all the work that goes into it is crazy."
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