Greet fall at the 21st Annual Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival

Choosing the perfect pumpkin is easy at the Hunsader Farms 21st Annual Pumpkin Festival. Credit: Deborah J Bell

Whether your taste runs to helping the kiddies pick out the perfect pumpkin, meandering through a seven-acre corn maze, watching as pumpkins are blasted from a specialty cannon or tapping your toes to some lively bluegrass and country music, there are loads of fun activities available at the 21st Annual Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival.

Little ones will enjoy a trip through the haystack maze. Credit: Deborah J Bell

For many Manatee County families, a trip to the Pumpkin Festival in October signals the beginning of fall in Florida. Judging by the number of license plates from adjoining counties spied at Hunsader Farms last weekend, this festival is a tradition for hundreds of other Floridians as well.

The admission price includes plenty of free entertainment, such as live music and shows, hayrides, more than a hundred craft booths, chainsaw sculptor, children’s playground, scarecrow displays, petting zoo, barnyard playground, the Pioneer trades village, butterfly experience area and even a frog jumping championship.

For just a few dollars more, attendees can explore a 7-acre corn maze or try out the junior haystack maze, fire off the hugely popular Pumpkin Cannon, or treat the kids to face painting or a pony ride.

With dozens of food vendors on site, hungry festival-goers can indulge in everything from farm roasted sweet corn and turkey legs to funnel cakes and candy apples. Just don’t forget to sample the homemade ice cream and kettle corn!

One of the highlights of the Festival this year is the return of “Mean Mary” James, an exceptional singer and musician who picks a blistering banjo and delivers bluegrass staples like “Rocky Top” and “Cripple Creek” as if she’s been doing it all of her life — which indeed she has.

“Mean Mary” James is appearing at the Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival. Credit: Deborah J Bell

James, a Florida native now based in Nashville, Tennessee, began life as a musical prodigy and could read music before she could read words. She started performing and writing songs at the tender age of five, and by seven she was proficient on the guitar, banjo and violin and entertaining audiences across the United States with her vocal and instrumental skills.

Today James plays eleven instruments and has performed more than 500 live television shows and over 4,000 road shows, including national festivals, fairs, theatres, clubs and house concerts. Her ever-growing personal musical repertoire includes both lively compositions and soulful song stories, all of which showcase her incredible instrumental speed and rich, sweet voice.

Family fun! Credit: Deborah J Bell

In addition to James, who will be entertaining listeners in Hunsader’s Country Club Barn over the next two weekends, several lively musical acts are also performing at this year’s Festival. Attendees should definitely check out the country stylings of the Sweeney Family Band, Southern Express Bluegrass and the Mountain Brew band as well.

The 21st Annual Hunsader Farms Annual Pumpkin Festival continues October 20-21, and 27-28, 2012 from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. Admission for adults is $8 and children age twelve and under are FREE. Parking is $5.

Hunsader Farms is located at 5500 County Road 675 in East Manatee County (halfway between SR 64 and SR 70), in Bradenton, Florida. For more information call 941-322-2168 or visit


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