LUZERNE — Fall was in the air as the sweet aroma of kettle corn wafted down Main Street during the 18th annual Fall Pumpkin Festival Saturday.
From hot apple cider to onion-topped rib-eye sandwiches, there was seemingly something to satisfy every appetite.
Nestled in a waffle cone with a dollop of whipped cream, the spiced pumpkin rice pudding was a favorite at Zina’s Homemade Fudge stand. “I think if it was ten degrees warmer, it would be more crowded, but I’m happy to be here,” said Bernie Sult, owner of Zina’s.
Many downtown merchants offered specials and discounts to attract customers during the event; Fat Daddy’s Bar sold chili dogs for $1.50 and pizza slices for $1.25. “Last year, we got a lot of new people that came in,” said bartender Danielle Krivenko. “I didn’t think it was going to be busy, but it was steady all day.”
Four-year-old Mariyah Sky Bonilla, of Wilkes-Barre, was all smiles as she neared the pony rides. “If there’s a long line, I don’t care. I’ll wait,” she said as she clutched the hand of her aunt, Keri Pavlick of Luzerne.
Joined by her 10-year-old cousin, Gia Rossick of Wilkes-Barre, Mariyah said she couldn’t wait to also go for a ride on the horse-drawn buggy.
Sponsored by the Merchants Association, the event was seen as a boon for borough businesses.
“The whole idea is to bring traffic downtown, and it gets new people in the stores,” said Jim Lane of The Main Bean and association president.
Pointing out the many new stores that opened along Main Street within the last few months, Lane also said there are a number of longtime businesses, such as Marc Co. Jewelers, which donated 200 pumpkins for the festival. The Merchants Association provided paint and embellishments for the children to decorate the pumpkins.
Larry Perry and his wife Nicole held a grand opening of their store, “Down on Main,” a business that showcases merchandise from area artisans. “This is the greatest time of the year to be here,” he said. “Everyone benefits.”
Enjoying the view from a seat in front of The Main Bean, Mayor Jim Keller said he was happy with the large turnout. “It’s a family event, really,” he said as a group of middle-school-aged kids enjoyed ice cream at a nearby table. “Luzerne is a family-oriented town; that’s what makes this work.”