By Bethany Christo
Imagine a thousand jack-o’-lanterns glowing in the October night sky. This spectacle, aptly dubbed the “Great Pumpkin Mountain” in St. Joseph, features a tower of pumpkins lit simultaneously at 8 pm on Friday, October 11 at the annual Pony Express Pumpkinfest. It’s the “gravy” of the opening ceremony, according to Cindy Daffron, the event’s executive director.
“People get to the ceremony early because they want that front-row spot,” Cindy says. “When we flip the switch, you hear the sound of thousands of people sucking in their breath at the sight.”
The pumpkins are grown on nearby Waffle Creek Farm and carved and decorated by local students. Businesses near St. Joseph that donate can have their logo carved into a pumpkin.
Building the best mountain has been a learning process throughout the event’s eighteen-year run. To keep the gourds from rolling, pumpkins are gutted from the bottom. A coat of Vaseline helps prevent them from decomposing.
The family arts festival, held outside the Pony Express Museum, continues through the
weekend with live music, variety shows, carnival rides, games, food, and children’s activities such as a petting zoo, pony rides, magicians, and storytelling. On Saturday morning, participants
can show off their spooky and sparkly attire at the costume parade. The festival runs from Oct. 11-13. Learn more at www.stjomo.com/PumpkinFest.
This story originally ran in the October 2013 issue of Missouri Life. For more stories like this, subscribe to Missouri Life.