The annual Pumpkintown — A Festival of History, Harvest and Heritage concluded Saturday in Downtown Athens with an estimated 16,000 participants.

The event is hosted by Friendly City Festivals and the City of Athens.

According to event organizer Meredith Willson, the event was a success after not being able to host it last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had a real small committee this year and I think we did OK, all things considered,” Willson said. “The vendors came through, we had a lot of great activities, the weather couldn’t have been better and all of that stuff adds up to a good event and we are really pleased.”

She said she hopes the event eased the minds of the members of the community and allowed them to focus on something positive instead of the issues associated with the coronavirus.

One of the changes this year was the addition of new vendors to participate in the event.

“I would say about 50% of our vendors were new this year,” she noted. “Our goal is to try to make each year a little bit different and I think this year our vendors are what really made it different as well as our activities ... All of that adds up to make a fresh and new festival.”

Pocket Park also received some attention during the event this year with activities from the Arts Center of Athens, such as pumpkin painting.

“I think moving forward we would like to focus a little bit more on the historical part and get the Trail of Tears and a little more of the history behind Pumpkintown and the history of the community,” she noted. “We would also like to continue to get the word out about our non-profits in the community as well. We had probably 10 non-profits and they all reported really good traffic and got their word out and I think that is what it is all about.”

Activities during the festival included the Mutt Strut dog costume contest, the presentation of the 500,000th Imagination Library Book to a child in McMinn County, live entertainment and the finale of the Sounds of Summer concert series.

Sponsors for the event included the City of Athens, McMinn County Tourism Board, Friendly City Festivals, Athens Area Council for the Arts, Main Street Athens, DENSO, Tennessee Overhill, Tennessee Arts Commission, VEC Customer Shares, Willsonthropic, Inc., Wolfenden Family Pharmacies, Companion Funeral Home and Cremation Services, Bowater ECU, Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Starr Regional Medical Center and Mayfield Dairy Farm.

Email shane.duncan@

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