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Fall weather is right around the corner, and what better way to celebrate the season than a classic pumpkin festival.

Main Street Square is hosting the 11th annual Great Downtown Pumpkin Festival Sept. 28 in downtown Rapid City. This year’s celebration features a full day of events at various downtown locations, including Main Street Square, Memorial Park and Sixth Street. It is Main Street Square's biggest festival of the year and has activities for all ages. 

“This is our way of closing out summer and celebrating fall and getting people ready for the upcoming holidays,” said Maja Cromwell, marketing and communications coordinator for Main Street Square.

The day starts at 9 a.m. with a drum demonstration by Rapid City Stevens and Central high schools. The drum lines will proceed down Sixth Street to Memorial Park, where the Punkin Chuckin’ catapult starts at 10 a.m. Teams from South Dakota School of Mines & Technology Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Production program will use catapults and trebuchets to send pumpkins soaring through the air. Students will be judged on accuracy and distance. A second round starts at 1 p.m.

Vendor booths, the farmers market and a Kidz Zone will be set up throughout the day. There will also be a pumpkin carving contest, where participants can carve or decorate their pumpkins. The public can then vote for their favorites, and a special panel of judges will select winners for the Most Artful Carving and Best in Show.

The Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off takes place at 11 a.m. in the City Hall parking lot. The festival is a certified weigh-off site for the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth, where pumpkins will be inspected, measured and weighed. Cash prizes will be awarded during a ceremony immediately following the weigh-off. Participants must register their pumpkins before Sept. 27.

New for this year's festival is the Farm-to-Table Cooking Demonstration, which will feature a pumpkin-themed menu, including pumpkin bisque, pumpkin and sweet potato ravioli with Parmesan sage sauce and a pumpkin tiramisu.

"We definitely want people to come to the cooking demonstration. Chef Chris from the Hotel Alex Johnson is going to put on a presentation of some delicious fall dishes. We’ll have local ingredients provided for the dishes, and we'll have recipe cards for people to take home and try," Cromwell said.

The day’s festivities wrap up with a Pumpkin Pub Crawl from 1 to 7 p.m. Badge holders will receive discounts on beer, wine or cocktails at participating businesses. Pub crawl badges are $10 and can be purchased at the Bud Light Beverage Garden. You must be 21 years or older to participate in the pub crawl.

Entrance to the festival is free and all events are open to the public. Some events do have an admission fee. For more information and a full schedule of events, visit mainstreetsquarerc.com or call 716-7979.

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