Elon Community celebrates fall fun with annual Pumpkin Festival

Dozens gathered at the Elon community garden on East College Avenue for the annual festival on Friday, Oct. 27. It was coordinated by the help of students in Professor Michael Strickland’s classes. 

Everyone was in high spirits at Elon’s annual Pumpkin Festival at the Community Garden on Friday, Oct. 27, with many stations set up such as cupcake decorating, sustainable mugs, jewelry selling, live music and more.

Lecturer Michael Strickland began the pumpkin festival 15 years ago at Elon and is happy to see a robust turnout for the fall tradition. Students in Strickland’s Garden Studio course have been working in anticipation of this year’s pumpkin festival for months. They helped coordinate the set-up, the stations and the clean-up of the event and hosted many different tables.

Additionally, Strickland’s professional writing course assisted in set up and clean up and ran a station for hot sauce taste testing. They gave out a questionnaire for participants to learn their background and familiarity with hot sauce to see if perhaps any family traditions influenced their preferences.

“I was never really a fan of hot sauce,” explained Sarah Sandak ’26, who is a student in Strickland’s Professional Writing course. “But after doing all the different taste testing, I’ve grown to like it. But definitely not the super spicy ones.”

The hot sauces were ordered from lowest to highest on the Scoville scale, and taste testers were required to sign a waiver if they wanted to try out the Carolina Reaper hot sauce.

“The waiver was just a precaution,” Mia Purse ’25 explained. “But everyone who signed it and tried the spicy hot sauce ended up being fine. Having the jugs of water on standby was a good idea, though.”

Through stations like this, community members were able to connect. From tasting hot sauce, face-painting, to simply enjoying the live band, there was room for everyone at the pumpkin festival.

At one station, elementary education major Lucy Horn ’24 was selling jewelry. Her stand consisted of custom-made earrings, bracelets, mason jars, hair clips, sweatshirts, stickers and more. She said the goal of her brand is to put a smile on the face of the new owner of her designs, which she achieved through her sales that day.

Another station that got visitors excited for the fall offered hot apple cider and hot chocolate along with other refreshments. The Garden Studio class hosted the station to promote sustainability by allowing visitors to keep their mugs, gathered from thrift stores, after they finished their drink.

Stations geared towards children, such as the cupcake decorating, and pumpkin carving were also a huge hit. They were able to have the individual freedom to design and carve however they chose, which yielded a lot of creative pumpkins and frosting-loaded cupcakes. Children of professors, as well as local Burlington families, were in attendance.

The community garden serves as a reminder of Elon’s dedication to sustainability and community closeness.