Local Events

Bradenton welcomes Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival

Twenty-three years ago, the very first Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival was a fun but inconspicuous event that was probably unknown outside of the Bradenton area. A few crafts people from the area set up booths, Hunsader farms provided food, and a small crowd of locals spent an autumn afternoon on the farm, celebrating local agriculture.

These days, people drive for hours to come to Bradenton for the festival. The crowds are so huge that organizers long ago stopped trying to estimate how many visitors come to the festival.

"Tens of thousands, every weekend, every day," David Hunsader said "It's very much a destination. We get people from all over. People come from Georgia. They come from as far south as Miami."

This year's festival starts Saturday on the 1,000-acre Hunsader Farm on County Road 675. It runs all day Saturday and Sunday for three weekends.

It's not just a destination for visitors. Because of its size and reputation, the Hunsader farms Pumpkin festival now draws craftspeople, food vendors and entertainers from all over the region. More than 100 crafters will have booths at the festival, along with antiques dealers and entertainment ranging from live country music to jugglers, and activities for kids and adults.

Here's the schedule for the first weekend:

Saturday

Boogie Barn Stage

9 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 1:15 p.m., 2:45 p.m.: Buffalo Country Band.

9:45 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m., 4:15 p.m.: Watching Wendy Band.

12:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m.: Sweeney Family Band.

10:30 a.m., 12:15 p.m.: Palmetto High School Dancers.

Kids' Corner

11:30 a.m., 1:45 p.m., 4 p.m.: Frog-Jumping Championships.

10:15 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 2;30 p.m.: Mountain Brew Band.

Country Club Barn

10:30 a.m., noon, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m.: Anderson Brothers.

4 p.m.: Mountain Brew Band.

Saloon Stage

10:40 a.m., 12:40 p.m., 2:40 p.m.: Farm-ly Feud game show.

11:10 a.m., 2;10 p.m.: Sweeney Family Band.

11:40 p.m., 1:40 p.m., 3:40 p.m.: Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show.

Other venues

11:45 a.m., 2 p.m., 4:15 p.m.: Gunslinger Monster Truck Show

12:20 p.m., 2:20 p.m., 4:20 p.m.: Smage Brothers Stunt Show.

12:05 p.m., 2:05 p.m., 4:05 p.m.: Walker Brothers Circus.

Fearless Flores Motorcycle stunts: 12:15 p.m., 2;30 p.m., 4;30 p.m.

10 a.m.-4 p.m. on the hour: Pumpkin Cannon.

Sunday

BOOGIE BARN STAGE

9 a.m., 10:50 a.m., 1:20 p.m., 2:45 p.m.: Buffalo Country Band.

9:45 a.m., 11:35 a.m., 2:05 p.m., 4:20 p.m.: Southern Express Bluegrass.

10:30 a.m.: Diamonds and Pearls Dance Team.

1:05 p.m., 3:25 p.m., 3:40 p.m.: 4H Country Cloggers.

Kids' Corner

11:30 a.m., 1:45 p.m., 4 p.m.: Frog-Jumping Championships.

10:15 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 2;30 p.m.: Mountain Brew Band.

Country Club Barn

10:30 a.m., noon, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m.: Anderson Brothers.

4 p.m.: Mountain Brew Band.

Saloon Stage

10:40 a.m., 12:40 p.m., 2:40 p.m.: Farm-ly Feud game show.

11:10 a.m., 2;10 p.m.: Sweeney Family Band.

11:40 p.m., 1:40 p.m., 3:40 p.m.: Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show.

Other venues

11:45 a.m., 2 p.m., 4:15 p.m.: Gunslinger Monster Truck Show

12:20 p.m., 2:20 p.m., 4:20 p.m.: Smage Brothers Stunt Show.

12:05 p.m., 2:05 p.m., 4:05 p.m.: Walker Brothers Circus.

12:15 p.m., 2;30 p.m., 4:30 p.m.: Fearless Flores Motorcycle stunts:

10 a.m.: Collector Car Show.

10 a.m.-4 p.m. on the hour: Pumpkin Cannon.

Details: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 11-12, 18-19 and 25-26, Hunsader Farms, 5500 County Road 675, East Manatee. Tickets: $10; children 12 and under free. Information: 941-322-2168, www.hunsaderfarms.com.

Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.

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