Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pumpkin Festival at Smoky Lake, and more!

This last Saturday we drove 3 1/2 hours to Smoky Lake for their 23rd Annual Pumpkin Festival.
We got as far as Lloydminster where we had to stop the van to give the kids a talking to (and a smack) after listening to them for that half hour bickering back and forth. It had escalated into beating on each other so we had to put a stop to that. I was beginning to have flash backs of our summer holiday trip to Calgary and I really didn't want to go through that again so soon.
We stopped at Innisfree for a washroom break (thank you, potty training) and carried on to Mundare for a stop for some famous sausage. I loved seeing the Ukrainian churches with their ornate rooftops. I couldn't resist taking this picture of the world's biggest sausage..from this angle it leaves nothing to the imagination.

We carried on north until we got to Smoky Lake. We parked the van and walked a few blocks up to Pumpkin Park, an area across from main street where there were 5 larger than life pumpkin sculptures. The show and shine contest was beginning and the entire main street and a side street were blocked off for it. There must have been a few hundred cars there. We walked along, admiring them and laughing aloud at the hearses that were lined up, decorated with skeletons and coffins. The kids stayed away from that area.

Brandon liked this Model T Ford

We made our way back to Pumpkin Park after getting a map...activities were sort of scattered all over, and 5 huge school buses were shuttling people to them all. There were five stops in all, and we gathered at one to wait for a bus. That's when we realized the town was bigger than we thought! We overheard a man on his cell saying the event brings upwards to 8000 people to the town. The population of this town is 1100, and for a small community it sure has a lot of heart and spirit.
As we approached the arena, where the bulk of the festival was located, I stared with my mouth hanging open--there was a midway to my left and scarecrows and pumpkins everywhere. And the people! There were hoards of people...and a very large food court with every Fair delight you crave. Inside the arena were two more food courts, with Ukrainian food being the main focus. The smell of frying sauerkraut was heavenly!

Inside the arena there were at least 400 people gathered.

The winning pumpkin weighs in at 581.2 kgs. Wow.
We entered the arena and the amount of people packed in there was staggering to us! It was so full it was standing room only. In truth the pictures don't do it justice at all! We found some seats and ate our lunch while we watched the weighing of the pumpkins. Some had traveled hours to have their pumpkins weighed, and with good reason: not only for the fun and enjoyment of the day and good natured sportsmanship between these gardeners, but for the over $7000 prize for the biggest specimen. Now that's a big pumpkin!! The prize went to a family in Taber, AB this year.
The farmer's market was full of goodies and homemade food, and I bought a huge bag of egg noodles from a Ukrainian couple who make it all by hand. I can't wait to try them out tonight. I also picked up a Matryoshka doll from an old Russian lady who had way too many to choose from.

The down side to all of this? Too many people and there were a lot of pushy ones there. We found some of them quite rude and short tempered. But I suppose that comes with a large group of people squashed in small spaces. The midway was the same way, with the line ups being so long that we stayed there for an hour and a half and the kids only went on one ride each. I gave away the tickets to some teenage girls standing in line. There just wasn't enough time to stand around there while we missed out on the rest of the events! Although my heart bled at the giving away of 50 dollars worth of tickets.

Enjoying my Elephant Ear, my treat for the year.

Huge homemade bags of pasta for 5 bucks each. 

If we hadn't parked so far away or had 3 kids to watch, I would have loved to buy a bunch of these pumpkins.

We wanted to enjoy the pork supper that was served until 6:30 but we decided to just hit the road as we still had an hour and a half to go into Sherwood Park for the night. We had a late supper in the city and went to our hotel rooms.
The next morning we met in the breakfast room and decided afterwards to tour a bit of old Edmonton while we waited for Costco to open up. As we were looping around to make our way back, Charlie decided that would be a good time to throw up all over in the back. Ugh, it wasn't very pleasant, as we were on the bridges and there was no where to stop for a bit. We got her cleaned up and debated what we should do; go home and not get Thanksgiving groceries or just hope for the best that she would be fine. We went ahead with Costco, and she was perfectly fine. She ran around the store, and even ate chicken and fries at lunch time in the van and had snacks afterwards. 
So we headed home, with mom and Mike in the front, Charlie content with her movie, and the two kids duking it out in the back. And me? I put on my headphones, much to Mike's disgust (at this point I didn't care about that) and went to my happy place...I could hardly hear the arguing at all!