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Gourd grenades explode at Huron Pumpkin Fest

Annie Zelm • Oct 16, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Pumpkin guts with a side of ... ketchup?

You'll probably find it only at the Huron Pumpkin Fest, where condiment-filled cannonballs plummeted from the sky amid squeals and giggles.

About 200 bystanders flinched Saturday as the first pumpkin spewed mayonnaise mixed with pulpy chunks, spraying it into the crowd at the Huron Boat Basin.

"Gross!" shrieked Casey Brown, 5, who picked a piece of pumpkin off her sleeve and checked her cousin Camryn VanVlerah, 4, for any splattered remains.

"Who thinks we should go higher?" announcer Brian Croucher asked, prompting cheers. The Barnes Nursery crane rose a bit higher with each pumpkin that followed -- filled with applesause, ketchup and mustard. By the time he picked up a giant salsa-filled pumpkin for the finale, the crane had reached its 60-foot limit.

The crowd took a few steps back as they counted down from 10.

When it was all said and done, the tarp below looked like a fall-inspired Jackson Pollock painting.

"When you leave a big mess, you know you did well," Croucher said with a smile. "There's really no purpose -- just a gigantic mess and kids screaming."

After the pumpkin drop, families waited for a magic show at the amphitheater and played games like the jack-o'-lantern toss and "ring a pumpkin."

Croucher, Huron's recreation manager, said the fourth annual festival had steady attendance for most of the afternoon, although high winds canceled a few attractions, such as the rock-climbing wall and bounce houses for the kids.

Huron River Fest queen Emily Wiseman and her attendant, Emily King, stood by in their crowns and sashes, hugging young girls who posed with them.

"It's cool that our whole community can come together and celebrate Halloween," said King, 17, a senior at Huron High School. "Just seeing how excited the kids get -- it just revolves around them."

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