HARTSBURG – It’s the year without a pumpkin festival in Hartsburg.
For the past 28 years, the annual Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival has brought thousands of people to the small town and while it isn’t happening this weekend, Hartsburg is still seeing increased traffic.
In a typical year, the festival runs the second weekend in October. The committee behind the celebration cancelled it this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jo Hackman, the owner of Hackman Farms, said despite the cancellation, pumpkins are still selling this year.
“We’re close to being out of pumpkins,” Hackman said. “We’ve been very busy. In fact, I would say this will be the last weekend we’ll be able to have any pumpkins.”
Hackman said while the harvest could have been better this year, she has no complaints. Even while the pandemic is still going on, Hackman said she’s been able to sell a good part of the produce she’s harvested.
This weekend, traffic to Hartsburg came in the form of families on the hunt for pumpkins and bikers on the Katy Trail.
John Eastman and Henry Matlosz biked from Columbia to Hartsburg and back Sunday. It was their first time in Hartsburg.
“It’s a beautiful little town,” Matlosz said.
Matlosz said he hasn’t been to the pumpkin festival before. Eastman and Matlosz had lunch in Hartsburg and said they can’t imagine thousands of people filling the small town.
But for Vivian Nichols, a Hartsburg resident, she said the lack of crowds and celebration this weekend is different.
During a typical pumpkin festival weekend, Nichols said all of her family and friends celebrated together. She said she misses the holiday feeling.
“The things we all have taken for granted, like the holidays – the Fourth of July, Memorial Day – all of that has come and gone,” Nichols said. “I miss doing those kinds of things.”
Nichols and her husband also ran a German food booth at the festival for about 20 years. She said Hartsburg and the many local vendors that attend might see a financial loss from not having the festival this year
“It is a big financial win for the city,” Nichols said.
But some Hartbsurg businesses are seeing increased customers this weekend. Similar to Hackman Farms, the owner of Dotty’s Cafe, Dotty Mans, said this weekend she’s still seen a steady flow of customers.
In the past, Mans said Dotty’s Cafe didn’t really benefit greatly from the pumpkin festival because customers ate at the vendors instead of in her cafe.
“It didn’t really help us any, but it’s fun,” Mans said.
By 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Mans said the Cafe sold out of french fries, onion rings and buns.
“Constant people from the trail and people driving around and getting their pumpkins,” Mans said. “We’ve just had a super good weekend.”