Pumpkin Festival of Őrség
Fourteen years ago some people in the Tourinform office decided to elongate the tourist-season of Őrség. As one of the main product of the area is pumpkin-seed-oil and the harvest is in late September, they created a one-day-program in Őriszentpéter (main settlement of Őrség region) on the very last Saturday of September.
The guests could make and taste all kind of food made of pumpkin, there was a food competition,too. They could try how to make oil of pumpkin seed, they carved their own jack-o’lantern…. next year the festival spot was so crowded that in the third year already 3 spots were created in Őriszentpéter with “pumpkin line” runing between them.
Guests enjoy activities: they made their jack-o’lantern, they wanted to participate a procession in the dark with candels in their lantern. Inhabitants also wanted take part, so they elected a “pumpkin king” who lead the procession. (Who has the biggest pumpkin in the year, he/she will be the king/queen.) After a few years other villages of the region would have liked to join the event. An elderly peasant woman of Nagyrákos show how people used to peel pumpkin seed: while guest are peeling she is telling stories. The village of Szalafő is the place were inhabitants and tourists participate together in the “pumpkin slinging competition”. Magyarszombatfa is a potter village were in the locally made pots all kinds of pumpkin food are prepared.
This year the Pumpkin Festival was already 3-day-long and 4 villages of Őrség give place for it. We think that this event was created by the inhabitants and tourists together. Local people ornate their gardens and streets with pumpkins and pumpkin men which give a special feeling on that weekend. Guests can feel that this festival wasn’t organized by one organization only for tourists, but this is a feast for everybody staying in Őrség.
After the festival all the stakeholders sit down and discuss what was good and what went wrong during the 3 days. Thus we know what guest suggested. For example: the access was difficult toward Szalafő so the “pumpkin line” also go out to that village. Pumpkin carving is difficult for small children, they need a “pumpkin play-tent” etc.
Finally 3 words why the Pumpkin Festival is so successful in Hungary:
-understand (needs of local community and guests),
-cooperate (more than many stakeholders),