For the second year in a row, I'm very proud to say that Go West Young Mom is among the sponsors of the Pumpkins for a Cure Festival. This year it will be held on Saturday, Sept. 29, and Sunday, Sept. 30, in downtown Geneva.
Please plan on attending this family-friendly festival and make sure to stop by the Go West table and say hello. If you "like" the Facebook page, you'll stay up to date on the event. I'll also tell you a bit about what you can expect each day and why if you have kids along, you'll want to try to attend on Saturday, Sept. 29.
But first, I just have to tell you a bit about the Zellmer Childhood Disease Foundation. The festival benefits the foundation, a not-for-profit which is organized and operated to support education and research related to the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure of chronic childhood diseases.
The foundation's inspiration is Jim Zellmer, who was just six years old when he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in the fall of 2004. When his father Paul came home from the pharmacy with a bag full of insulin and supplies, Jim asked: "How long will I have to take shot?" His dad told him, "For the rest of your life." The little boy tearfully looked at his mom Mary Agnes and said, "Mommy, fix this."
The next fall, the Zellmer family started selling pumpkins (from Jim's grandparents' farm) out of their front yard in the Mill Creek subdivision to raise money for research into curing Type 1 diabetes. When the sales got too big for their yard, the event moved to a golf course parking lot. The Pumpkins for a Cure Festival is now in its seventh year, and it encompasses much of downtown Geneva, especially the area around the Kane County Courthouse on Third Street.
Previously, the The Zellmer family and the Pumpkins for a Cure Festival acted as third-party fundraisers for the American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, raising more than $350,000 for research.
Last year, they decided to form a not-for-profit called the Zellmer Childhood Disease Foundation. The foundation's Research Grant Program makes financial grants each January to organizations engaged in research related to the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and/or cure of chronic childhood diseases. All research grants stay in the Chicago area; this year, money is going to the University of Chicago Kovler Diabetes Center and the University of Illinois Chicago Pediatric Brain Disorders Clinic.
The foundation puts on several other events besides the Pumpkins for a Cure Festival that started it all. There's also Golf Fore a Cure (held in the summer at the Prairie Landings Golf Club in West Chicago); the Trick or Trot 10K Run (on the early morning of Sept. 29; registration is now underway); the Harvest Taste (also on Sept. 29, this is a food competition involving pumpkin as an ingredient) and Black Hat Day, in which participating downtown Geneva merchants feature a special or free giveaway on Sept. 29 to anyone wearing a black hat.
Now for some details about the Pumpkins for a Cure Festival. The centerpiece is a "Pumpkin Patch" on the courthouse lawn where you'll find the tried-and-true jack-o-lanterns but also specialty pumpkins such as Cinderella's, Lunch Lady's, white pumpkins, dark green pumpkins and even pink pumpkins! There will also be mums and other fall plants and decorations for purchase. The prices you pay for the pumpkins, mums, etc. are technically a donation, but there are suggested set prices. There is no admission fee for the festival itself, but there are suggested donations for attractions such as the hayrides, pony rides and petting zoo. Remember, it's all for charity!
If you have children along, the best day to attend is certainly Saturday, Sept. 29. On Sunday, Sept. 30, the event is mostly confined to pumpkins and mum sales on the courthouse lawn.
Here's the schedule for Saturday (You can also print out a copy here):
- 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pumpkins for a Cure Festival is open
- 10 a.m. Participating Black Hat Day Merchants open
- 9 a.m. Free giveaways for kids at the Go West Young Mom (yay!) booth and the Patch booth, both on the courthouse lawn.
- 10 a.m. Debbie Notoro gives a Master Gardener demonstration on the Campbell Street Stage
- 11 a.m. Children's performer Carole Stevens of Macaroni Soup performs on the Campbell Street Stage
- 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Kids Raffle on the Courthouse Lawn
- 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Apple Raffle at the Courthouse Lawn Allstate Tent
- 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pony Rides behind the Courthouse
- 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Petting Zoo on the Courthouse Lawn
- Noon: Free hotdogs available while supplies last on Campbell Street
- Noon to 12:30 p.m. Story Time featuring "The Littlest Pumpkin" by RA Harmon and read by Diane Clark on the Campbell Street Stage
- Noon to 4 p.m. Haunted Hay Ride featuring stories by Donna Latham on Third Street
- Noon to 4 p.m. Pete the Scarecrow twists balloons on Campbell Street in front of Country Naturals
- Noon to 4 p.m. Face Painting on the Courthouse Lawn
- 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Professional pumpkin carver Marc Solomon on the Campbell Street Stage
- 1 p.m. Food Network Star Judson Allen gives a cooking demo on the Third Street Stage
- 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Professional pumpkin carver Marc Solomon at Graham's Chocolate
- 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. The Harvest Taste (Savory) opens on the Little Traveler Lawn
- 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The Harvest Taste (Sweet) opens on the Little Traveler Lawn
- 4:15 p.m. State Street Studio Dance performs on the Third Street Stage
- 4:30 p.m. Harvest Taste Sweet & Savory Awards given on the Third Street Stage
As you can see, there's a lot of fun activities for young children, and the Courthouse Lawn is a scenic backdrop for a wonderful event that benfits a great cause. I hope to see you Saturday, Sept. 29 -- do make sure to stop and say hello!
Note: To get an idea of what to expect, check out the Go West Album from the 2011 Pumpkins for a Cure Festival.