Pumpkinfest to give back

Staff Writer

Pumpkinfest will be doing something it’s never done this year and that’s donate money back to the community.
This year is the first year Pumpkinfest has had enough surplus in its checking account and committee members feel comfortable making a sizeable donation that will better the community and the people who live and visit New Bremen.
On Saturday night of the festival, committee members will write out a $25,000 check to the Village of New Bremen to go toward the purchase of some fitness kiosks and bike rentals along the Miami-Erie Canal path. According to Jay Riethman, a committee member for Pumpkinfest, the committee wanted to find a project to donate to that tied together what was already in existence.
“[The path] goes basically from in front of the pavillion where Pumpkinfest is at all the way out to the nature center on Lock Two [Road], so it’s probably a 2-mile or so stretch that is already paved that goes all the way out there that connects to the nature center which is another mile or so paved track out there too,” Riethman said. “It will tie in with some of the existing stuff and is something kind of different and unique and people visiting from out of town … it could be something different too for people who don’t have a bike and want to get outside and be active and they can ride a bike and have the fitness station and things they can work out with and stuff like that.”
The idea for the fitness kiosks and bike rental came from the village, Riethman added. Committee members reached out to the village council and people at the parks and recreation department to get ideas on projects they had in mind, but didn’t have the funding for yet.
“That was one of the big ones that wasn’t funded yet and we liked the idea because it was something different because all of the towns around here don’t have the bike rental thing and it kind of ties into the history of New Bremen with the canal path,” Riethman said.
The excess funds come after years of saving money in case the festival needed it. Riethman mentioned that when Pumpkinfest first started in 2003 it wasn’t very profitable because it focused a lot on conquering the Guiness Book of World Records for largest pumpkin pie —a record New Bremen still holds — as well as having activities like smashing cars with pumpkins and hosting pumpkin boat races. Those things weren’t very profitable for the organization and therefore they adopted a new purpose and mission that focused on, “providing a quality harvest-style festival in celebration of music, art, food, football, friends, family and all things pumpkin flavored and to raise money to support parks and recreation in the community for years to come,” according to the New Bremen Pumpkinfest website.
“We decided to make sure we had enough saved up in our checking account to make sure we could survive year-to-year in case an event gets rained out we wanted to make sure to cover our expenses,” Riethman said. “And we did that a couple of years ago, we met that big goal ... We got enough money saved up to survive year-to-year and then this will be the first year that we have excess proceeds that we don’t really need to save anymore so we’re giving it back to the community.”
The money donated this year won’t cover the complete costs of the fitness stations, however it’s a start. Riethman mentioned that the idea is still in the infancy stages, but is for sure going to happen once all the details are ironed out. Right now — and the final cost of the project is not set in stone but is guessed to be around $100,000 — Riethman mentioned the village will fundraise another $25,000 and then get grants from the state to match their sum of $50,000.
Next year and the years after, Pumpkinfest committee members hope to continue making donations to better nonprofits and other community entities in New Bremen.
The large donation isn’t the only new feature to Pumpkinfest this year. There will be a homebrew competition for amateur beer brewers, and the grand prize winner will have the opportunity to brew their beer at Lake Rat Brewing in Celina.
There are four categories — light, dark, hoppy and pumpkin — participants can enter their brews into which will be judged by owners of local breweries. Judges will come from Lake Rat Brewing, Moeller Brew Barn, Tailspin Brewing Co. and Gongoozlers Brewery — a new brewery coming to New Bremen.
“The last I heard there’s only five to 10 slots open,” Riethman said. “It’s limited to 40 entries because that’s kind of a lot of beer for the judges to drink so we had to cap it somewhere.”
There will be one winner from each category, and from those the grand prize winner will be chosen. Entry is $20, which includes a t-shirt and can be submitted online at NewBremenPumpkinfest.com/homebrew. Winner’s will be announced at 9 p.m. on Sept. 28. More information about the contest can be found on the Pumpkinfest website.
Also new this year, a 14-foot projector screen for patrons to watch the Ohio State football game on Saturday. The committee is guessing the game might be a night game this year, although the time of the game has yet to be announced.
“I figure three TV’s around the bar area for the Ohio State game might not be enough so we went with the big projector hoping we’d draw more people in to watch the game,” Riethman mentioned.
The festival will also feature touch-a-truck for children to take pictures with, some hands on art projects for adults and children, a display about the world record pumpkin pie, pony rides and of course live entertainment.
For more information about the festival and times of events visit NewBremenPumpkinfest.com.