Pumpkin contest, craft beer draw crowds despite cold at Western Springs Fall Festival

Rainy weather for the second year in a row didn’t stop residents from attending the annual fall festival Friday in Western Springs.

Kristin Hettinga of the Western Springs Business Association, which sponsors the annual event on the Village Green, said they added a craft beer tasting tent and extended hours until 10 p.m.

“We also have a headliner band this year, Good Things, which we are really excited about,” she said.

Caitlyn DeRose of Hinsdale brought her 21-month-old daughter to the event for the first time.

“My daughter was really interested in the baby goats and all the animals,” DeRose said.

The petting zoo and hayrides proved to be popular attractions. Clint Schultz, 5 and brother Morgan, 3 came from Countryside to “see all the animals and ride the ponies,” Morgan said.

Local businesses and organizations provided games and craft activities and music was provided by Mattix Music and School of Rock, leading up to the headline band. The Thomas Ford Library was also on hand to provide games and activities to children.

“We have a make your own button activity, mini-golf and treats to give away like candy and other prizes,” said librarian Rachel Hoover.

The festival invites children to bring decorated, but not carved, pumpkins for judging in the contest.

“I made a witch pumpkin because I wanted to enter the contest this year. It was fun and now I’m going to go check out all of the tents,” said Suzy Avakain, 11.

Pumpkins painted teal for the Teal Pumpkin project were once again popular and are a way to encourage people to provide nonfood treats on Halloween for those children with food allergies. The business association awarded a first place pumpkin prize to William Powell who created a vampire themed pumpkin.

“My daughter loves decorating pumpkins. We also like listening to the music and walking around and we enjoy having dinner at the festival,” said Jess Root, whose daughter 5-year-old daughter Alice was painting a small pumpkin at one of the sponsored tents.

The Theatre of Western Springs provided storytelling by the fire and volunteers for the festival read spooky stories and provided Halloween themed coloring pages inside the Western Spring Water Tower.

As the rain brought in chilly weather, visitors headed for the craft beer tent, which also provided food for purchase from Solstice. Vendors were also on hand from BB’s Baby Donuts, Old Town Red Hots and DayDream Coffee.

The craft beer tasting proved popular with $30 tickets, which provided a reusable tasting glass that could be refilled from a number of Chicago area Breweries.

“We are really enjoying the festival and like the Buckledown Beer. It is a local brewery and we frequently buy their beer at Mariano’s,” said John Everette, who recently moved to Western Springs from Chicago. “We wanted to see what this is all about and are having fun.”

Suzy Avakain, 11, with the pumpkin she decorated.

Diane Dachota / Pioneer Press

Suzy Avakain, 11, with the pumpkin she decorated.

Suzy Avakain, 11, with the pumpkin she decorated. (Diane Dachota / Pioneer Press)

Alice Root, 5, decorates a pumpkin.

Diane Dachota / Pioneer Press

Alice Root, 5, decorates a pumpkin.

Alice Root, 5, decorates a pumpkin. (Diane Dachota / Pioneer Press)

Five-year-old Clint Schultz feeds a baby goat.

Diane Dachota / Pioneer Press

Five-year-old Clint Schultz feeds a baby goat.

Five-year-old Clint Schultz feeds a baby goat. (Diane Dachota / Pioneer Press)

Maeve Roper, 21 months, tries one of the games.

Diane Dachota / Pioneer Press

Maeve Roper, 21 months, tries one of the games.

Maeve Roper, 21 months, tries one of the games. (Diane Dachota / Pioneer Press)

Pumpkins painted teal to urge nonfood treats this Halloween were among the contest entries this year.

Diane Dachota / Pioneer Press

Pumpkins painted teal to urge nonfood treats this Halloween were among the contest entries this year.

Pumpkins painted teal to urge nonfood treats this Halloween were among the contest entries this year. (Diane Dachota / Pioneer Press)

The Thomas Ford Memorial Library tent.

Diane Dachota / Pioneer Press

The Thomas Ford Memorial Library tent.

The Thomas Ford Memorial Library tent. (Diane Dachota / Pioneer Press)

Diane Dachota is a freelance reporter.