October 2, 2008


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Pumpkins, magic and music for all
Milford celebrates 19th Great Pumpkin Festival

By Dana Unger dunger@hippopress.com

Live music, haunted trails, magic and countless pumpkin-related activities will fill the 19th Annual Milford Great Pumpkin Festival next weekend, Friday, Oct. 10, through Sunday, Oct. 12, in downtown Milford.

Thousands flocked to the fall festival last year, and organizers are betting that this year’s festival will be an even bigger success for the Milford Downtown Ongoing Improvement Team (DO-IT), which coordinates the event each year.

DO-IT executive director and festival organizer Tracy Bardsley hopes that this year’s events lineup will exceed both the group’s and the town’s expectations.

“The shows and events we have going on are going to be fantastic,” she said. “We’ve got some amazing performers lined up and all kinds of events for the public to come out and enjoy.”

The highlight for this year’s festival will be a special performance by award-winning illusionists The Steelgraves on Friday, Oct. 10, at 8 p.m. in the Amato Center. Specializing in stage magic, The Steelgraves’ live show incorporates a mix of comedy, audience participation, juggling, animal magic tricks and illusions. The duo was named New England Magic Champions (Stage Magic) for 2004 and 2005 and Eastern States Stage Magic Champions in 2006.

“Everyone is excited about The Steelgraves performance,” Bardsley said. “It’s going to be a can’t-miss event.”

Saturday activities will feature a talent show in which participants will compete for cash prizes in junior and adult divisions. This will be the second year for the talent show, which garnered huge performer turnouts last year.

“We had a great response for the talent show last year, and this year’s entries are really shaping up,” Bardsley said. “We have a lot of singers, but we also have dance, comedy, and musicians — including an incredible young drummer — so you’re guaranteed a little bit of everything.”

The same can also be said for the festival’s music lineup for this year, undoubtedly a focus of the yearly festival. Featuring a whopping 28 acts performing at The Oval and Community House Lawn, this year’s performers include Fred Simmons and the Folksoul Band, Random Acts of Harmony, The Pop Farmers, Shelby Lyn Rogers, the Ballou Brothers, Tara Greenblatt, Russell Hill, Bean Hill Bluegrass Band, Rootes, Nate Smith, The Sinfonietta, Fuzzy Logic, Steve Blunt, Mikial Robertson, the Stephanie Hurley Combo, and more.

“We have everything from rock ‘n’ roll, bluegrass, country, folk, and we even have a symphony performing,” Bardsley said. “It really runs the gamut — we’ve taken great pains with our lineup to ensure that whatever kind of music you like, you’ll find it here.”

With all the fall festivals happening throughout this state this month, Milford organizers see their event as a one-stop shop for every possible autumnal activity.

“What’s great is that you can start off in the morning, go to some events, grab some lunch, and then go dance on the Oval in the evening,” Bardsley said. “You can stay all day and find plenty to do.”

For a full schedule of events, as well as ticket information, entry forms and directions, go to www.milfordpumpkinfestival.org.

Can’t miss music
• The Pop Farmers: Power pop covers of artists including Tom Petty, R.E.M., and The Smithereens. Saturday, Oct. 11, at 11 a.m., Oval Stage.
• Rootes: Duo of Jason Paul and Rahel performing the best of Jewish music in Hebrew and English. Saturday, Oct. 11, at 11 a.m., Community House Lawn.
• Shelby Lyn Rogers: 15-year-old singer-songwriter blending country, bluegrass, soft rock, and pop. Saturday, Oct. 11, at 1 p.m., Oval Stage.
• Amy Conley & “Folkenergy!”: High-energy world folk, blues and Celtic traditional music. Saturday, Oct. 11, at 6 p.m., Oval Stage.
• Steve Blunt: original music for children. Sunday, Oct. 12, at noon, Community House Lawn.
• Random Acts of Harmony: Acoustic three-part harmony American and British Isles folk music. Sunday, Oct. 12, afternoon, Oval Stage.
• Rakes of the Milford Area: Ensemble specializing in Celtic, French-Canadian, New England contra, and American music. Sunday, Oct. 12, afternoon, Community House Lawn