The Cochrane Pumpkin Lantern Festival is getting ready to celebrate year number five at the Cochrane RancheHouse Historic Park this Friday (October 25).

Laurey Godard, Co-Chair of the festival, shares the free event is not about Halloween ghoul but rather an evening of enchantment and mystique. 

With well over three hundred anticipated pumpkins, the park will be lit up and filled with creativity from all age groups and genders. "It is not ghoulish or goblinish, but rather the artistic carving of pumpkins. It is a wonderful dark evening activity that is completely family and community-friendly, as well as a real showcase of talent, an opportunity to connect with neighbours, and enjoy a night outdoors."

High school bands, smores, fire pits, food trucks, and Widahl Woodcraft creations will also play a part in the evening, which kicks off at 6 p.m.

The pumpkins carved by all ages and genders will be accepted and displayed this year, either competitively or not. "That is what has been really neat; people have been coming from all different quadrants of our community to say I really want to carve a pumpkin, or we are going to carve an entire display of pumpkins. This year we are also changing it up. In past years, all pumpkins were put in the pool to be judged, and this year if you want to be judged, you can fill out a form, or if you want, you can choose just to be displayed. So I think it will be less administration for us, and more accessible."

The lit-up route (pathways) will once again change this year, but attendees can still expect nooks and crannies that will feel quaint, cozy, lit up, and beautiful. "It seems like the route changes every year, partially due to the expansion of the number of pumpkins and what works."

With a beautiful evening expected, thousands of people are anticipated over the three hours. With limited parking available at the Ranche Park, Godard encourages residents to consider one of a few options. "With more and more guests coming every year, it is difficult to get access to the Ranche because of limited parking down there. So we have a few options; Cochrane Ranche being the first, Cochrane Alliance Church, and then the third is the brand new COLT bus service. They will run a shuttle from the old Canadian Tire store directly to the Ranche. Or people can always walk from their homes."

All pumpkins will be accepted for drop off between noon and 3 p.m. on Friday at the Cochrane Ranche Park, says Godard. And, for those competitive carvers, there will be five divisions this year, including ages 12 and under, 13 to 17, adult, business, and group. Judges will award first, second, and third prizes to participants in each category.

After the evening is over, the pumpkins are available to picked-up by entrants, but they never go to waste. "People can keep their pumpkins, and they can pick them up at 9 o'clock; if not, they go to a few places. Some will go to a couple of haunted house activities in the surrounding area, and then the rest non-decorated pumpkins will go to Butterfield Acres to feed the animals."

Eight dedicated committee members, numerous volunteers, and over one hundred Leadership students from Cochrane High help bring the event to life. Participation from six community schools, numerous businesses, and artistic individuals of all ages are responsible for the carvings.

For more information or to register a competitive pumpkin for the Cochrane Pumpkin Lantern Festival, go HERE.