Thousands will descend on Hartsburg this weekend for the annual Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival.
The two-day celebration of pumpkins and the Hartsburg community runs from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Started in 1991 as a celebration of local pumpkin farmers, it's grown into a weekend packed full of entertainment, crafts and a parade.
Organizer Leslie Martin said about 40,000 people attended last year's festival, adding the absence of a home game for Missouri's football team should boost attendance this year.
"If the weather is decent and there's not a Missouri football game, the attendance is usually pretty decent," Martin said. "The weather looks good now, and we hope that it stays that way."
Live music will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday and run until 5 p.m. A mile-long parade begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Katy Trail entrance near Hartsburg and will end in downtown Hartsburg.
"Anyone is welcome to walk in the parade," Martin said.
The festival's cutest baby contest will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Volunteer Park gazebo. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. Babies ranging in age from 0-3 months to children 4-5 years old can participate. Prizes will be awarded to the first-, second- and third-place winners in each group. About 80 children are already registered to participate.
About 170 vendors, will have booths at the festival, ranging from vendors for children to food vendors. On Sunday morning, a joint church service by Hartsburg's two churches will be held at the Volunteer Park gazebo.
To find the parking area, organizers asked attendees on the festival's website to follow Route A onto Old Highway 63, then follow Mount Pleasant Road onto Soft Pit Road and Bottom Road until they hit Bush Landing Road.
When leaving the festival, attendees will be directed onto River Road until they hit Route M in Wilton and back onto Highway 63 in Ashland.
Route A will be closed to festival traffic, except for motorcycles. Christian School Road will be closed to traffic. Both roads will be open to local traffic during the festival.