Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival: Five things to know before you go

Ready to celebrate fall, y’all?

This October, a beloved local tradition enters its 28th year in East Manatee County.

Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival will bring family-friendly, seasonal fun to Bradenton each weekend through the end of the month.

Here are some things to know before you go.

Festival-goers browse shops and activities during the Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival. The 28th Annual Pumpkin Festival kicks off this Saturday. Bradenton Herald file photo

What’s fun at the festival?

Yes, you’ll find pumpkins aplenty at this fest. But there’s oh so much more to see and do.

Hunsader’s fall spectacular features rides, a petting zoo, shopping, eating, live entertainment and a renowned corn maze.

The produce stand at Hunsader Farms is open during the festival with lots of fresh fruits and veggies for sale, and you can also collect your own harvest with a U-pick experience. Homemade ice cream from Big Olaf Creamery in Lakewood Ranch is another treat.

Expect lots of country crafts, art, plants, fair food and more in the vendor area.

Daredevils, stunt artists, magicians and musicians are among the free entertainment offered each day of the festival.

An educational grizzly bear exhibition, a musical revue featuring puppets and live animals and a live show with Sarasota circus legend Bello Nock are among the experiences that will be offered all three weekends of the festival.

Hours, dates, etc.

This year, the Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 and 27.

How about the weather? Well, let’s just say we’re not promising any autumn breezes.

Forecasters are predicting a warm October, and the festival grounds are sunny, so shades and sunscreen are recommended.

Children fly down the zip line during a past Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival. Bradentin Herald File Photo

Admission and extras

Admission to the festival is $10; children 10 and under are free.

Admission is cash-only at the gate, but ATMs are provided on site.

Some vendors accept payment by credit and debit card, but it’s a good idea to bring some extra cash for pumpkin purchasing, shopping and food.

Parking is an additional $5 per vehicle.

The following activities are included free with admission: a craft exhibition, live music, live shows, a tour of a pioneer trades village, hayrides, a live chainsaw sculptor, scarecrow displays, a petting zoo, a barnyard playground, a juggler and a puppet show.

Children enjoy a train ride at the Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival. Herald file photo

The corn maze and children’s train ride are $2 per participant, and a big train ride is $3.

Other festival activities available for an extra charge include charity pumpkin games, a rock climbing wall, face painting, a butterfly experience and zip lining.

A live band plays music as children dance during the Husander Farms Pumpkin Festival. Bradenton Herald File Photo

Special events

Buddy Walk, an event benefiting local non-profit Manasota BUDS (Bringing Up Down Syndrome) will start at the festival grounds on Oct. 19 at 11 a.m. Those interested in participating can register online or on site on the day of the walk starting at 8:30 a.m. It’s $15 to register, plus $5 for festival parking.

Listen up, boos and ghouls: the traditional children’s costume contest will happen on Oct. 27 — the last Sunday of the festival.

Judging will take place at 1 p.m. for children up to 2 years old; 1:30 p.m. for children 3-4 years old, 2 p.m. for children 5-7 years old and 2:30 p.m. for children 8-10 years old.

Entry is free with festival admission.

Sisters climb among the pumpkins during the Husander Farms Pumpkin Festival. Bradenton Herald File Photo

No two pumpkins are the same ...

But they’re all special. Picking out the perfect pumpkin for decorating or carving up with family is one of the special delights of the festival — and Hunsader Farms hosts the pumpkin patch to end all pumpkin patches.

Poor Linus might have been visited by the “Great Pumpkin” after all if he staked out Hunsader’s pumpkin tent.

Pumpkin hunters can take their pick among multiple sizes and varieties of gourd. If you can’t pick just one, take a few and have a family carving contest.

All those pumpkins make for a splendid sight and a great fall photo op, too.

Details: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 and 27. Hunsader Farms, 5500 County Road 675, Bradenton. Admission: $10. Children 10 and under: Free. Parking: $5.

Info: hunsaderfarms.com.