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Auburn Community Festival promises big pumpkins, politicos

Scarecrow contest and giant gourd showdown typically please crowds
By: Max Puckett Journal Correspondent
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The 14th Annual Auburn Community Festival explodes Saturday with an extravaganza of activity. Sheryl Petersen, the Recreation Services manager for the Auburn Recreation District, has been a committee member of the Auburn Community Festival for the last four years. “We have 64 vendors coming including food and a potpourri of other things from craft-makers to politicians,” Petersen said. “I think the pumpkin and the scarecrow contests are the highlight of the event. People come to see the biggest pumpkin and most elaborate scarecrow. We generally expect about 3,000 people.” Randy Warren, an Auburn resident, won $2,000 last year with a pumpkin that topped the scales at 1,149 pounds. “I’ve been doing this since it started 14 years ago,” Warren said. “We got some free seeds from Deric Rothe, the event chairman, and we started growing. This has become a year-round thing. We water them six times a day.” Warren said what started as a hobby has become a family obsession. “This has been a great bonding experience for my kids and me. I started with my boy, Archie, and now he’s a senior at Placer and he’s got other things on his mind. Now I’m teaching my daughter Audrey, who is 9 now. She had a 1,061-pound pumpkin year before last.” Though he won last year, Warren is unsure about this year. “We’ve done well over the last few years. This year we had some growing pains,” Warren said. “One reason was immature compost I think. I’ve still got some 700- or 800-pounders though. Auburn’s soil is hard on pumpkins. We’ve got some good competition coming from out of town. It will be good show.” Barbara Jicha, a local CPA, has been the organizer of the scarecrow contest for 10 years. “We are hoping for 30 entrants. We had 30 last year,” Jicha said. “There is a core group of people who enter every year and there are always new ones as well.” Kurt Barton of Meadow Vista has entered the scarecrow contest all but one year since the event began. He has won People’s Choice, 1st–place and even had a scarecrow he made for the festival displayed at the California State Fair. “It is a lot of fun. It gives me a chance to be creative and recycle a bunch of old junk,” Barton said. He has also won several thousand dollars over the years Live music will be provided by Justin Ancheta, a Meadow Vista native who has been playing music all over Northern California. There is a Halloween costume contest and parade led by Auburn’s Sugar Plump Fairies. Sign-ups start at noon and the parade is at 2 p.m. The event is hosted by the Auburn Recreation District, the Auburn Journal, the Chamber of Commerce, and KAHI Radio. --------------------------- 14th Annual Auburn Community Festival When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 16 Where: Auburn Recreation Park Why: Fun! Giant pumpkin, scarecrow, Halloween costume and recipe contests, live music, lots of children’s activities, lots of food and non-food vendors