Bumper crop for pumpkin fest

FESTIVAL: Eliza Entwisle, aged two from Pontefract, among the pumpkins at Farmer Copleys.
FESTIVAL: Eliza Entwisle, aged two from Pontefract, among the pumpkins at Farmer Copleys.

Farmer Copleys is gearing up for its annual pumpkin festival on a grand scale.

More than 120,000 pumpkins have been planted this season ahead of the festival in Featherstone next month.

Farmer Robert Copley has created the largest pumpkin festival in the United Kingdom over the last seven years. A spokesman for the farm said: “Robert has planted over 120,000 pumpkins this season, across a range of varieties. The result is a rainbow of pumpkins and despite the recent heatwave, they seem to be growing bigger than ever.

“Robert grows thousands of the traditional round orange pumpkins that we are familiar with which are fabulous fun to carve. You can then make a gorgeous pumpkin soup with the flesh. Over the years Robert has discovered and sourced seeds from an array of pumpkins, then some squash and gourds meaning his fields are dotted with thousands of pumpkins of all shapes, colours and sizes waiting to be picked.”

The festival will take place at Ravensknowle Farm on Pontefract Road from October 6 to 31. Attractions include storytelling, tractor and trailer rides, pumpkin carving tents, professional pumpkin carvers, fancy dress parade, magicians, face painting, bucking pumpkin and pumpkin skittles.

Staff will also be dressed up as pumpkins, scarecrows or friendly witches. The pumpkin theme will also be continued in the shop and cafe.

Mr Copley’s idea started with farming research trips to the USA.

But the spokesman added: “Most people think that the pumpkin carving stems from the United States. It goes back further and started in the UK and Europe. When the pilgrims left for America, they celebrated by carving potatoes and turnips. Upon arrival to the States the native Americans introduced them to the pumpkin which is thought to have saved many from starvation as pumpkins cut and stored will keep over winter. After a harvest, with no potatoes or turnips, they carved the pumpkin which they discovered was much easier, bigger and more impressive. Thus, the American phenomenon is actually coming back to its roots, and making a massive difference to the Autumn season here.”

There is no admission fee and many the activities are free of charge.