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Family Fun: Spend Fall With the Family at the 36th Annual Pumpkinfest in Franklin, TN

Happy fall, y'all!

Written by Trisha Boyer
Family Fun: Spend Fall With the Family at the 36th Annual Pumpkinfest in Franklin, TN
Pumpkinfest; Photo credit: Williamson Heritage Foundation

Autumn is in the air. In Middle Tennessee that means pleasant temps, radiant foliage and a calendar filled to the brim with fall festivities and Halloween-themed events. Heritage Foundation’s 36th Annual Pumpkinfest, on Saturday, October 26, is a perfect way to usher in the splendors of the season with a full day of small-town, family fun set against the backdrop of Franklin, Tennessee’s historic downtown.

Alex Hayes, communications manager for Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, TN, explains that Pumpkinfest was originally created in 1983 as an economic tool to revitalize downtown Franklin. “At that time downtown Franklin was challenged with competition from urban shopping centers and malls, and small businesses were closing on Main Street across the country,” she says. “Festivals were a way to bring people to historic downtown Franklin to remember how important preserving the heritage of our community is to this town and this county.”

Pumpkinfest; Photo credit: Williamson Heritage Foundation
Pumpkinfest; Photo credit: Williamson Heritage Foundation

Much like the charming town of Franklin itself, the festival has grown —from its humble beginnings encompassing just a couple of blocks to filling four blocks along Main Street (1st Avenue to 5th Avenue) as well as some of the side streets (on 3rd and 4th Avenues). Last year more than 65,000 guests came out to enjoy the day.

Hayes says the changes are so much more than the addition of stages and hundreds of craft and food vendors. “The biggest change is the backdrop that Pumpkinfest takes place on,” she says. “Franklin’s Main Street has a fully revitalized downtown district with successful local shops who extend their shops into the streets on festival days.”

Kids Zone, sponsored by Church of the City, is the most popular destination of the fest year after year. Open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., it features an entire block dedicated to kid-centric activities and programming, including carnival rides and petting zoos— all at no charge.

Pumpkinfest; Photo credit: Williamson Heritage Foundation
Pumpkinfest; Photo credit: Williamson Heritage Foundation

Guests can expect to see other crowd favorites make a return this year, like extreme pumpkin carving, the Sister Cities “Great Pumpkin” exhibit, a pumpkin tree photo booth, pet and people costume contests and the Downtown Franklin Rotary chili cook-off to name just a few.  There are plenty of new additions for 2019, too.

“This year’s Pumpkinfest will host the Williamson County High School Battle of the Bands presented by Dark Horse Institute,” adds Hayes. “Additionally, the festival will feature a new Leiper’s Fork Distillery Whiskey Lounge, enhanced costume parade, and Heritage classroom pop-up.”

Pumpkinfest; Photo credit: Williamson Heritage Foundation
Pumpkinfest; Photo credit: Williamson Heritage Foundation

For a special evening treat, local singer/songwriter Taylon Hope will headline the Main Stage following Battle of the Bands.

All proceeds from Pumpkinfest go directly to the mission of the Heritage Foundation.  Since 1967 the 501(c)3 non-profit has been dedicated to protecting and preserving Williamson County’s historic, architectural and geographic resources; in short, saving the places that matter.

Here are a few tips to help navigate Pumpkinfest and make the most of your day:

Download the festival mobile app to see the map, vendor listing, schedule, sponsors and more.

Arrive early for parking in the garages on 2nd and 4th Avenues. (Accessible parking is also available in the garages.)

Park & Ride is another great option for convenient festival parking. It’s available at The Park at Harlinsdale Farm and Church of the City. Shuttles are $1 per person each way and will run from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

36th Annual Pumpkinfest
October 26, 2019
10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Franklin’s Main Street
williamsonheritage.org/pumpkinfest