Pumpkinfest in Libertyville produces miles of smiles
By Long Hwa-Shu For Sun-Times Media October 6, 2013 2:36PM
People brought canned goods for the Libertyville Township Food Pantry and received a pumpkin in return. | TINA JOHANSSON~FOR SUN-TIMES MEDIA
Updated: December 6, 2013 2:34AM
The park in downtown Libertyville turned into a pumpkin patch Saturday as hundreds of kids painted faces onto pumpkins while their parents stood watching, guiding, encouraging and hoping for the best.
The annual Pumpkinfest, hosted by the Libertyville Junior Woman’s Club, drew visitors far and near to downtown where businesses were doing a booming trade. The sidewalks were jammed with people, and restaurants were crowded.
The fest at the Cook Memorial Park & Rose Garden also was a fundraiser that benefited the Libertyville Township Food Pantry, said Laura Joyce, club president.
“We already raised $1,200,” said Joyce just an hour into the event. Donors, mostly parents, also brought cans of food for the pantry in exchange for pumpkins for their children to paint. She expected a turnout of 1,000 kids.
Kate Hammett and her husband Craig came with a can of tomato soup and got a small pumpkin for their daughter Angie, 3. Sitting at a picnic table, she tried her best to paint a face on it.
“This is our third year at the fest. We just love it,” said Kate, a member of the Libertyville Junior Woman’s Club.
At a nearby table, Kerstin Cholewin and her husband Erik watched with joy as their two young children, Linnea and Kira, tried to put a face on their pumpkins. In exchange for the pumpkins, they donated chicken noodle soup for the pantry.
“It’s such a great thing for the family,” said the young mother, adding that they would keep the pumpkins for their Halloween decorations.
Warren Tse, a retired medical professor, probably was the oldest painter as he tried to paint his pumpkin alive, stroke by stroke. Accompanied by his wife Ruby, he said he wanted to give the pumpkin to his 19 month-old grandson when he came visiting him with his parents.
Pumpkinfest was a team effort, said Joyce, the Junior Woman’s Club president. The 1,100 “kid-sized” pumpkins were bought by the two Libertyyille Rotary Clubs, the Noon and Sunrise, and then donated for this event. They were unloaded from the truck by the Libertyville Boy Scouts and piled under a tree. The Rotary Clubs also donated cash. Of course, many parents donated cans of food for the pantry.
In addition to pumpkin painting, the day’s event included Touch the Trucks and live entertainment, with music and dance performances.
For Touch the Trucks, presented by Cook Memorial Public Library District, the Libertyville Fire Department put on display its shiny 100-foot high ladder truck. Russ Bartholomew, a firefighter and paramedic, was on hand to give away paper badges from the department.
“We want kids to get used to us, not afraid of fire trucks,” he said.
Among children attracted to the display was Elijah, 17 months, son of Dr. Eric Yeung of the Navy Hospital and his wife Morgan. He climbed into the truck with the help of his father, smiling and curious.
“He loves the truck,” said the mother, pointing out that his first word when he learned to speak sounded like truck.
A bright red 1950 farm tractor was another attraction. Jim Moran, 73, the owner, put many a curious kid onto the high seat just to give them the feel of it.
“I was never a farmer but I had always wanted a tractor,” said Moran, a retired Cardinal Health salesman, of the tractor made by the former International Harvester, which once had a plant in Libertyville.
“I bought it 10 years ago from a farm in Wisconsin and restored it,” he added.