The sixth annual Operation Pumpkin festival Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, was overflowing with orange carved orbs.

Travel Channel films Operation Pumpkin festival

Crews from the national television channel and organizers of the event were sworn to secrecy, but Lisa Lapp-Draginoff of Mason, who was interviewed for the show, let the cat out of the bag.

“They said they were from the Travel Channel,” she said. “So I thought that was pretty cool.”

Jodi Fritsch, who is on the event committee, said they signed a contract that forbids them from revealing the identity of the national program.

“It’s a national television crew in town to film for a special that will be shown next year,” Frisch said. “To showcase the sculpting competition among 10 of the best sculptors in the country and they are going to showcase some of the revitalization of historic downtown Hamilton.”

Mary and Chuck Miller have come to the festival every one of the six years it has been in town. They said the rebirth of the downtown is nothing short of amazing.

“It’s amazing what their doing, even on the other side where we live, on the west side, the new stores that they’re building and everything,” Mary said. “It’s come a long way, it’s really great.”

Jordan Habel was admiring the intricately carved pumpkins that rimmed the area where sculptors were carving some spooky, some not so scary images out of gigantic pumpkins for the competition.

“I didn’t know pumpkins grew this big,” the Fairfield resident said. “We were just joking around that with some of these pumpkins, it takes me so long to carve a little tiny one, to hollow out some these enormous ones would take an enormous amount of time.”

Deana McNally and her 3-year-old grandson Jayson Houston were enjoying the festival — especially since Jayson won a stuffed animal at the carnival. She hadn’t been in a couple years and said she was amazed at how the event has grown.

“I didn’t expect it to be this big,” McNally said. “They have a lot more than was here a couple years ago.”

Fritsch said there were more than 100 arts and crafts and food booths at the fest this year in additional to music, a zip line and much more. More than 215 volunteers work the event. Last year 30,000 to 40,000 people attended and she is expecting at least that many people to flock to Hamilton this weekend.

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