Morton Pumpkin Festival will go on, but look different in 2020

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MORTON, Ill. — A fall staple in Morton will continue in 2020, but getting your favorite pumpkin flavored foods will take a different shape due to COVID-19.

The Morton Chamber of Commerce Pumpkin Festival Advisory Committee has announced plans for this year’s Morton Pumpkin Festival to be more drive-thru and virtual based instead of the normal festival and carnival. The committee says many of the events normally at the festival will now be relocated to local businesses and other partners through a Business-In-Place expo.

Pumpkin festival food will be available via drive-thru during the normal festival days September 16-19. The Pumpkin Classic 10K and 2-mile run will be a virtual event this year. The parade will still take place in 2020, but it will be a drive-thru style event at the Morton VFW. For a list of all of the other changes, click here.

Morton Chmaber of Commerce, Executive Director, Leigh Ann Brown said the event is an important part of the town’s history.

“In years past, an event like that attracts people and that’s why and how our businesses do well with bringing those people to our community,” Brown said.

Brown said it was important to hold the event and to do so they had to comply with Governor Pritzker’s reopening guidlines.

“It allows people to still experience and enjoy some of the food in a drive thru fashion. A combination of virtually and in person events we can have safely,” Brown said.

J.D. Dalfonso, CEO of Enjoy Peoria said the event will allow people to experience some sort of normalcy in the fall.

“Recovery here is going start local. The local recovery is going start here at the hands of our own residents and I think people are eager to get out there and experience the opportunity to dine out and shop local,” Dalfonso said.

He also said it’s a good start to rebounding the area’s economy following the pandemic and commends the town for adapting on the fly.

“These innovative ideas continue on and the way we experienced it will add to what we used to have in the past,” Dalfonso said.

The chamber of commerce is encouraging businesses and residents to decorate their entry ways for Roaring Pumpkins and All That Jazz.

Organizers say the changes kept the safety of those interested in participating as the most important factor. The carnival was not possible due to the current guidelines of the Restore Illinois plan.

“The goal of the Pumpkin Festival has always been to “Gather and Give,” says Leigh Ann Brown, Morton Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, “however, this year’s ‘gathering’ will look different but our Give Back to the community will be even greater. The goal this year is to focus our Give Back on promoting our local brick and mortar businesses with Talk of the Town restaurant and retail-themed experiences.” 

The theme of this year’s event is “Roaring Pumpkins and All that Jazz”.

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