One of the highlights of this year’s Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival is a tribute to Snooty.
You might never realize that, though, unless you’re flying over the festival in an airplane or helicopter.
The festival always features a seven-acre corn maze. Every year, the Hunsader family reworks the maze, creating different graphics. One year it was a train, and once it was a tribute to a member of the Hunsader family who had passed away.
“Every single year we have a different maze,” said Amanda Baar, a Hunsader Farms employee and a member of the Hunsader clan. “Last year was the 25th annual festival so we had the number 25. But you might never know it unless you saw the picture on Facebook or on the website.”
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From the ground, the maze looks like a walk-through corn field. You have to view it from overhead to get a good look at the pattern.
This year, to commemorate the county’s famous mascot, the maze shows an outline of a manatee and the words “Snooty, 1948-2017.”
Every single year we have a different maze. Last year was the 25th annual festival so we had the number 25. But you might never know it unless you saw the picture on Facebook or on the website.
Snooty, as virtually everyone in the Bradenton area knows, was the 69-year-old manatee who lived almost his entire life in Bradenton. He was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records, and he drowned in July after he got stuck in a narrow passageway off of his tank at the South Florida Museum.
The maze may change every year, but other than that the Hunsader Farms Pumpkin stays about the same. It’s probably the most-popular event of the fall season in Manatee County, and since people love it so much, there’s no reason to tamper with it, Baar said.
“Even the price is the same,” she said.
When it started, it was a bucolic event that attracted a few locals who wanted to enjoy a day in the country.
Now the Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival is a destination event that draws tens of thousands of people from all over Florida to Manatee County over three weekends. The estimates of the total crowd size varies depending on who you talk to, but Baar said the farm is expecting about 75,000 people over the course of this year’s three-weekend festival. (Other estimates have ranged as high as 100,000 for the run.)
This year’s festival starts Saturday on the 1,000-acre Hunsader Farms on County Road 675. It runs all day each Saturday and Sunday through the end of October.
“It’s been growing every year,” Baar said. “As long as it’s open all six days, it gets bigger every year.”
It’s been growing every year. As long as it’s open all six days, it gets bigger every year.
Hurricanes have caused the festival to shut down on occasional weekends over the past quarter-century, she said. But so far, no hurricanes seem to heading our way during the next few weeks.
As always, this year’s festival includes lots of down-home family activities, including hayrides, pony rides, a rock climbing wall, a petting zoo and train rides. World-famous clown Bello Nock will appear Oct. 28-29. There will also be an exotic bird show, FMX motocross and BMX stunt shows, a monster truck show, Walker Brothers Circus, the frog jumping championships and much more. A lot of the activities are free with admission to the festival, but some of the others cost a few extra dollars.
And, of course, there are lot of arts and crafts booths as well as farm-fresh food, including produce, roasted corn and pumpkin pie.
The market at the farm is usually closed on Sundays, but it’s open until 5 p.m. on festival days
Besides the seven-acre Snooty, one difference this year will be the live entertainment. An out-of town-band has been providing the music for the past few years, but this year Bradenton-based country duo One Night Rodeo will perform on the festival stage.