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Saturday in Easthampton brings Pumpkin Festival, Yappy Valley Community Halloween Dog Show

The city’s second Pumpkin Festival in Nonotuck Park has expanded this year to include more activities and even the Yappy Valley Community Halloween Dog Show, an annual fundraiser for Easthampton High School.

“Last year was really good and we’re trying to take steps to make it bigger and better every year,” said John Mason, director of Parks and Recreation. “We want to get more people in the park who don’t usually come.”

The Pumpkin Festival runs from noon to 7 p.m. Pumpkins are not provided. Participants are invited to bring their own to carve at the park, or bring them already carved to enter the jack-o-lantern contest. Entries close at 4 p.m. Trophies and prizes will be awarded in the following categories: scariest, funniest, cutest and most original pumpkins.

Also new this year is a pie baking contest. Bakers must pre-register at the parks office by Friday — the contest is capped at 15 pies — and drop off their pies at the park from 2 to 4:30 p.m. At 5 p.m., the judges, Apollo Grill owner Casey Douglass, Popcorn Noir co-owner Kristen Davis and Nini’s Restaurant owner Johnny Daniele, will taste the pies and award prizes for the best apple, pumpkin and in-season fruit pie.

A pie eating contest will follow at 5:15 p.m., but Mason said the participants will not be gobbling the same pies that the bakers worked hard on for the baking contest.

The festival also features there will be live music, an inflatable slide and obstacle course, face-painting and other activities and games for kids and adults.

Admission to the park and all the activities are free, but Mason said the Easthampton Rotary Club will sell food, over a dozen crafters will display their wares and local farmers will sell produce.

Humans aren’t the only ones who can enjoy the festivities Saturday. Canines of all kinds are invited to compete in the Yappy Valley Community Halloween Dog Show from noon to 2 p.m.,

It is being held in conjunction with the Pumpkin Festival for the first time.

Organizer Gail Canon said the fundraiser has been held in the Easthampton High School gymnasium every spring for the last three years. But the show may not have a space for the show this spring, as the school will be moving into a new building, so Mason invited them to join forces with the festival.

“It was short notice to prepare for it, but I think it will be nicer for the dogs to be outside on the grass rather than on the gym floor,” Canon said.

People can pay $5 to enter their dog in three of five classes: best dog costume, best dog and owner costumes, cutest dog, scariest dog, and the obstacle parade. Winners will receive Halloween-themed trophies and everyone will get participation ribbons.

The proceeds of the event will help the school’s Student Council put on an annual community dinner to thank supportive community members, and to support “connecting activities,” a Guidance Department program that offers field trips to businesses and other places, Canon said.

Canon said she hopes coordinating the event with the festival will attract more people to participate. “We had about 40 or 50 dogs last year, but we’d like more,” she said.

Previous years’ events usually raise between $1,200 and $1,500, she said.

For more information on the show, contact Canon at canong@easthampton.k12.ma.us.

For information on the festival, contact the Parks and Recreation Office at (413) 529-1440 or visit the event’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/etonpumpkin.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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