June 2, 2015
Goomeri’s Pumpkin Festival celebrated its 19th birthday this year, and its mascots may well be men who wear pumpkins on their heads.
The eight man ‘Pumpkings’ team received a standing ovation when they arrived at the top of Policeman’s Hill on Sunday afternoon wearing their distinctive pumpkin helmets and team T-shirts.
After being mobbed by photographers and autograph seekers, team members joined the lengthy queues of pumpkin rollers to patiently await their turn.
The group, which is based at Stafford in Brisbane, has enjoyed five wins in the festival’s Pumpkin Pull competition over the years. Members have also notched up wins in the Great Australian Pumpkin Roll in 2013 and 2014.
But last year – much to the surprise of many fans – they failed to make it three in a row.
“The Roll is elusive,” a Pumpkings spokesman Dave Elser explained.
“Many factors come into play in a perfect roll. You have to consider crowd numbers, humidity, temperature, wind shear, shifts in the Earth’s magnetic field … even the international geopolitical situation can exert an effect.
“Our team members try to take all these things into consideration when we roll our pumpkins.
“But it’s harder than it looks.”
The Pumpkings were among hundreds of rollers who took their chance at this year’s Festival, which drew an estimated crowd of more than 12,000 to a town that normally boasts a population of less than 800.
Market stalls and roving entertainers filled the CBD, and during the day festival-goers were able to enjoy a jam-packed program of entertainment in Dickinson Park which ranged from cooking demonstrations to country music, and indigenous dancing to whip-cracking.
There were also lots of pumpkin games including pumpkin shot-put, the Pumpkin Pull and pumpkin bowls; a decorated pumpkin competition; and giant pumpkins on display at the Hall Of Memory.
A Heritage and Outback Street Parade in the morning set a light-hearted mood; and music from top guitarist Phil Emmanuel, Pop Standen and their friends, who were playing at Joe’s Grand Hotel, wafted over the CBD all day.
Festival organisers said they were delighted by this year’s turnout, which was up on last year.
An estimated 600 caravanners also came to Goomeri for the Festival.
This not only provided a significant economic boost for the town, but should do the same for neighbouring towns over the coming week as the caravanners continued their journeys north or south.
As is now traditional practice, the Great Australian Pumpkin Roll was launched by the Gympie Mayor … this year, Mick Curran.
He was assisted by Gympie Region’s longest-serving female councillor, Julie Walker from Widgee, and its two latest recruits: former Kilkivan Shire CEO Ray Currie and former school teacher Bob Leitch, from Gympie.
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Great Australian Pumpkin Roll
1. Steven Larter (Upper Kedron)
2. Samuel Stubbs (Nanango)
1. Cory McGregor (Kallangur)
2. Brock Smith
Pumpkin Power Shot Put
Ryan Biddle 21.69m
Kelly Manley 11.48m
14 years & Under:
Brady Curtis 10.67m
1. Flaming Mongirls team – David Eiser, Steven Larter, Warwick Bates
2. Pump Up The Jam team – Sean Moloney, Trent Osborne, Jason Tooley
1. Cameron Reed
Giant Pumpkin Competition
1. Marie Halkaus 64.8kg
Pumpkin Pageant Competition
1. Jeff Collins and Ian Nguyen
2. Angie Brown and Judy Ferguson
1. Maddison Richards
2. Renee Gillard
Pumpkin Mash Cash Raffle ($1000)
Pumpkin Patchwork Challenge
1. Margaret Knight (Bundaberg)
2. Sheila Corps (Battery Hill)
1. Samantha Hetherington (Wondai)
2. Ashley Knight (Goomeri)
Decorated Tea Towel Competition
1. Sheila Corps (Battery Hill)
2. Marie Kalkaus (Upper Caboolture)
8 years & Under:
1. Pita Tidmarsh
2. Mia Snailer
3. Beau Dowden
1. Jorja Curran
2. Isla Airs
3. Louisa Frahm
1. Olivia Frahm
2. Steph Arrell
1. Colin Erbacher
2. Jonathan Kotzur
Decorated Pumpkin Competition
1. Eli Richards
2. Hannah Court
3. Ethan Giles
1. Carissa Dascombe
2. Connor McCouat
3. Renee Gillard
1. Jacinta Rockemer
2. Hannah Campbell
1. Jacob McCouat
2. Fiona Richards
3. Sue Heaney