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Highwood revels in success of Pumpkin Fest

Juan Barajas Highwood stacks pumpkins after they were carved during Highwood's PumpkFest when city attempted have most people carving simultaneously.

Juan Barajas of Highwood stacks pumpkins after they were carved during Highwood's Pumpkin Fest when the city attempted to have the most people carving simultaneously. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 9, 2012 7:27PM

HIGHWOOD — Halloween is over and the thousands of pumpkins are composted, but residents still have Pumpkin Fest 2012 to cheer about

Pumpkin Fest 2012 was the third annual Highwood Pumpkin Fest, and was a smashing success, attracting some 75,000 people from all over the Midwest.

After breaking the world record in 2011 for lighting 30,919 pumpkins throughout the town at once, the city created a friendly rivalry with Keene, N.H., and held dueling festivals, which was the subject of HGTV special “Pumpkin Wars.” The show captured Highwood at its finest as the community went for three Guinness World Record attempts: Most carved and lit jack-o-lanterns; longest line of pumpkin pies; and most people carving pumpkins simultaneously

Highwood did indeed break the Guinness World Record for Longest Line of Pies, with 723.9 feet of pies, but did not manage to break the others.

However, it was evident by footage that aired on HGTV that while completion of all records would have been wonderful, what was most important was the spirit of the community.

Highwood takes great pride in their unique festivals, including Bloody Mary Fest, Garlic Fest, Inferno Fest, weekly Wednesday Evening Gourmet Farmers Markets, and other events held year-round that are attracting those from all over.

The fests play a key role in Highwood’s tax-increment financing district. The strategy is thriving based on the successful participation of Highwood’s events, city officials say.

For example, Tony Castillo was a vendor in Highwood’s Evening Gourmet Farmers Market in the 2012 summer season, and was inspired to open up a new restaurant, Longitud315, Nov. 8 within the TIF district.

“I’ve noticed a big-time difference from having all these events in Highwood. It was a big door that needed to be opened for my business, and it really encouraged me to open one in a town like Highwood,” said Castillo.

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