It’s The Great Pumpkin Roll, Charlie Brown

by Bill Bush

HESSTON—If you’ve seen someone recently rolling a pumpkin down a ramp in the driveway, it’s Ken Schwanke and his wife practicing for The Great Lions Club Pumpkin Roll.

Schwanke isn’t trying to find the fastest pumpkin or perfect his technique. He’s organizing the event and wants to make sure it’s fun and runs smoothly.

The pumpkin roll will take place during Home Sweet Hesston. It starts at noon on Saturday (Oct. 16), outside of city hall.

“I think it’s a good location for us over here, just south of the railroad tracks for that day because they’ll be going uphill,” Schwanke said. “I was afraid that the pumpkins might roll and roll and roll and we’d be chasing them.”

That’s because participants will be competing for both speed and distance.

At the signal, competitors will release their pumpkins—no pushing—to roll down the eight-foot ramp that starts at a height of thirty-three inches. The pumpkins will roll along twelve feet of sideboards before reaching the finish line. The first pumpkin to pass the finish line wins the race.

But pumpkins will be allowed to roll until they come to a stop. They’ll be marked for distance to see whose pumpkins rolls the farthest. Trophies will be awarded for the top three places in each competition.

Pumpkins must be at least ten inches in diameter. Schwanke said they may split into size categories if they get enough entries. He also said the Lions Club would have some available for purchase (at cost) for people who want to enter but don’t have a pumpkin.

“My wife and I have a pumpkin and we’ve tested although we haven’t been daring enough to see how far it will roll down our driveway and into the streets,” Schwanke said. “We’ve caught it after about 18-20 feet. I’m trying to make it as fun as possible.”

PICTURE PROVIDED Ken Schwanke of the Lions Club tests the ramp in preparation for The Great Lions Club Pumpkin Roll at Home Sweet Hesston.

Schwanke hopes it will become an annual event.

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