Downtown harvest festival enters eighth year

Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016

RAPID CITY, SD – Downtown Rapid City will welcome loads of pumpkins weighing hundreds of pounds on Saturday, Sept. 24 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the eighth annual Great Downtown Pumpkin Festival, major event sponsor Hungry for Truth.

“The Great Downtown Pumpkin Festival is a community-wide celebration of the fall harvest,” said Megan Whitman, executive director of Main Street Square. “With a pumpkin catapult, giant pumpkin weigh-off, pumpkin chef challenge, and pumpkin carving contest there’s no shortage of fun for the whole family.”

The day begins with a drum demonstration by Stevens High School and Central High School. Then the drum lines will lead event attendees down Sixth St. to Memorial Park, where the pumpkin catapult, featuring four teams of South Dakota School of Mines & Technology students and one team of Central High School students, will be held. The pumpkin catapult is sponsored by RESPEC.

From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the farmers market, vendors and the First United Methodist Church bake sale will be open on Sixth St. and in Pedestrian Alley. The harvest market is sponsored by South Dakota State University. Find the Regional Health and Scull Construction Kidz Zone on Sixth St., in the City Hall parking lot, and in the Square, featuring an abundance of activities, bounce houses, the Main Street Square Fun Express train, face painting, the Canyon Lake Methodist Church pumpkin patch, pony rides, pumpkin painting and more. JDProductions will lead family entertainment in the Square from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Gabrielle Seeley will provide free interactive children’s art projects from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Square.

Stop by the HomeSlice Media Group booth to check out the pumpkin carving contest entries and vote on your favorite. Carve or decorate your own pumpkin or, new this year, stop by HomeSlice Media Group, located at 660 Flormann St., to pick up a discount certificate for special savings on a pumpkin from The Pumpkin Patch at Canyon Lake United Methodist Church to submit to the contest. The Pumpkin Patch at Canyon Lake United Methodist Church opens at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 21. Pumpkins will be displayed at the HomeSlice Media Group booth, where everyone can vote on their favorite for the People’s Choice Award. A special panel of judges will select winners for the Most Artful Carving and Best in Show. Winners will be announced at the festival and awarded prizes. Pumpkins must be submitted to the Main Street Square office by 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23, with a $5 entry fee. You may also donate a new, unopened toy for the Toys for Tots program in lieu of the $5 fee. All proceeds from this year’s entries will be donated to Toys for Tots. For more information, contact Lisa Sissenstein at or call 605-718-6867.

All eyes will be on the giant pumpkin weigh-off at 11 a.m. in the City Hall parking lot. Rapid City is a certified weigh-off site for the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth, an international organization. Pumpkins will be carefully inspected, measured and weighed. Cash prizes will be presented during the award ceremony, which will immediately follow the weigh-off. To enter a giant pumpkin, register your gourd between 8 and 10 a.m. the day of the event. The giant pumpkins will be on display until 4 p.m. The giant pumpkin weigh-off is co-sponsored by Black Hills State University – Rapid City and Black Hills Surgical Hospital.

Lang Termes will perform on the Main Street Square Stage at 12:30 p.m., then again at 3 p.m. The Stage Sponsor is the Hotel Alex Johnson.

Downtown chefs will compete for a first place prize in the fifth annual Downtown Chef Challenge at 2 p.m. Chefs from (kōl), The Blind Lion Speakeasy, Murphy’s Pub & Grill, Hotel Alex Johnson, ¿Que Pasa?, and Vertex Sky Bar will prepare a dish with pumpkin as an ingredient that judges will taste. The recipes for the dishes will be available on site. Festivalgoers may visit Chef’s Row in Pedestrian Alley to see creations on display and watch the final preparations. The Downtown Chef Challenge is sponsored by Someone’s in the Kitchen.

To wrap up the festival, a Downtown Pub Crawl will take place from 3 to 9 p.m. Pub crawl badge holders will receive discounts on beer, wine, cocktails, or soda at participating businesses. Show your badge at the Bud Light Beverage Garden, open from noon to 5 p.m., to receive one free beer courtesy of Main Street Square. Participating businesses include 445 Martini Lounge, Brass Rail Lounge, Ciao! Italian Eatery, Firehouse Brewing Company, Firehouse Wine Cellars, The Gold Bison Grill at the Holiday Inn – Rushmore Plaza, Rushmore, The Historic Freight House, Independent Ale House, Main Street Square, Murphy’s Pub & Grill, Oasis Lounge, Paddy O’Neill’s, Press Start, ¿Que Pasa? Cantina, Thirsty’s, Tinder Box, VFW Post 1273 and Wobbly Bobby. New this year, pub crawl badges may be pre-purchased for $10 online or at the Main Street Square office until noon on Friday, Sept. 23. Pub crawl badges will also be for sale at the Bud Light Beverage Garden for $10 from 3 to 5 p.m. A prize drawing will take place when you pick up your pub crawl badge.

Children are encouraged to enter the Great Downtown Pumpkin Coloring Contest. The coloring page can be found in the Pumpkin Post and on the Great Downtown Pumpkin Festival event page on The deadline to enter is Thursday, Sept. 22. The winners will receive a family 4-pack to the Main Street Square ice rink, which includes four ice skating passes and four ice skate rentals.

Enjoy free parking all day in all Downtown public lots, metered spaces on the streets, and in the parking ramp near Main Street Square on Saturday, Sept. 24.

For more information on the Great Downtown Pumpkin Festival, pick up a copy of the Pumpkin Post. The Pumpkin Post will be a supplement to the Rapid City Journal on Monday, Sept. 19. Additional copies will be available at the Main Street Square office from Monday, Sept. 19 to Friday, Sept. 23 and at Main Street Square during the event. Information may also be found at, or by calling 605-716-7979. 

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