Pumpkins have races

The fourth annual Giant Pumpkin Regatta and Festival brought crowds to Burlington’s waterfront on Oct. 8. Songs like “Who Let the Dogs Out” and “Hound Dog” blared through the speakers as children, adults and everyone in between walked around the green by the waterfront. Local food vendors lined the perimeter of the green where people could get food ranging from pizza to fried dough to ice cream. One of the main highlights of the event was the pet costume contest. Crowds of people gathered around the stage to watch dog owners bring out their pets in their Halloween costumes. Dogs dressed as pumpkins and princesses walked the runway as the dog music continued to play through the speakers. Festivalgoer Kim Thomas came to the festival from East Fairfield with her young children. She said that she drove almost an hour just to come to the festival. Her kids had a good time and their favorite events were the bouncy castle and the pet costume contest, Thomas said. Bounce castles and the pet costume contest were not the only attractions of the days’ events. The pumpkin regatta also drew in large crowds. Races took place in giant, carved-out pumpkins. Participants knelt down inside the pumpkins while racing in Lake Champlain’s chilly fall water. Sponsored by New England Federal Credit Union, the money raised at the festival went to a student leadership organization called PILOT. Students that were part of this group nominated two people to take part in the giant pumpkin regatta. Different local sponsors donated the giant pumpkins that the students used to race in. Jennifer Zelko of Essex came out to support her stepdaughter, Chelsea, who was racing in the regatta. Chelsea Zelko said that she came in second to last in the race but had a lot of fun doing it. Jennifer said that it was her first year at the festival and was impressed with the turnout. “It’s a beautiful day to be outside,” she said.