With the rainy weather holding off, the Great Pumpkin Hunt at the Elk Valley Nordic Centre (EVNC) was a sellout success, bringing an estimated 400 people to the Nordic Centre’s hut, just off of Mt. Fernie Park Rd., to search for Halloween’s favourite fruit.
“We had 275 pumpkin hunters which means that there were probably around 400 people at the EVNC Hut including adults. It was a great vibe with a lot of socializing, bonfires going, people roasting hot dogs and marshmallows, kids running through the forest,” said Fernie Nordic Society (FNS) volunteer Sam Sedlowsky.
“We have this beautiful space, a real community asset – the Elk Valley Nordic Centre – and wanted to find a way to make use of it during the shoulder season,” explained FNS volunteer Jen Grebeldinger. “With fewer family events in October, we thought this would be a great way to get families and kids out in the forests and enjoying the fall weather. Last year was the first year and there was such a great response that we knew we wanted to host it annually. FNS is very lucky to have so many motivated, talented volunteers to support events and programs. And certainly without those efforts, an event like this wouldn’t be possible.”
The event is set up for kids under the age of 10, but it does not stop the family from helping out with the hunt.
“[They] just go off into the woods and find themselves a pumpkin! We hide pumpkins closer for the little kids and then farther into the forest for those who want more of an adventure. Our hiders can be pretty sneaky so you have to look hard,” said Sedlowsky. “There is something really exiting about seeing a hint of orange disguised among the brush, and it’s so sweet to see how thrilled the kids are. The forest was full of ‘I found one!’ shouts.”
The event was bigger than ever this year, with 275 pumpkins hidden in the forest.
“This year we more than doubled the amount of pumpkins we hid,” said Grebeldinger. “It doesn’t sound like a lot but carrying that many pumpkins deep into the forest is a real workout! Starbucks was also generous enough to triple the amount of hot chocolate [they donated] and still we could have used more. We also had Emily Park onsite this year taking photographs for families, she had a really great display set up.”
The event is already being planned for next year, and the FNS hopes to see its pumpkin hunt event grow.