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Drought ruins Renfrew Pumpkin Fest

September 20, 1999|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - This summer's drought has claimed another victim - Renfrew's annual Pumpkin Fest.

Normally, Renfrew's pumpkin patch yields hundreds of the big round squash that signify autumn and Halloween. This year, said Melodie Anderson-Smith, director of the Renfrew Institute for Cultural and Environmental Studies, it only produced a handful.

"We don't have the money to go out and buy pumpkins. That could cost us $1,000," she said.

The Pumpkin Fest - this was to be the sixth annual - usually nets the Institute and Renfrew Museum and Park, both of which share the same grounds, from $1,400 to $2,000 each, Anderson-Smith said.

"We've had good years and bad years. One year we got rained out and it rained on the day we postponed it to," she said. "The first year was our best. We made $2,000 for each organization."

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Admission to the Pumpkin Fest includes live music, hay rides and a free lunch featuring vegetable and black bean soups, homemade breads and cider, plus a farm-animal petting zoo, she said.

The dry weather also forced the cancellation of the corn maze, a popular feature of the Pumpkin Fest. Every year Renfrew employees plant up to three acres of corn, then cut a maze through it, Anderson-Smith said.

Another popular feature that would have been missing this year even if the festival were held is the trebuchet. The device, a medieval catapult used to lob heavy stones at an enemy, was used to lob rotting pumpkins 200 feet into an empty field at Renfrew.

The machine broke down during last year's event and Renfrew officials have been unable to find a volunteer to repair it.

"Everybody got a kick out of it," Anderson-Smith said.

Undaunted by drought and equipment breakdowns, institute and museum officials are already planning for next year's Pumpkin Fest.

It's scheduled for Oct. 21, 2000.

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