Pumpkins turn into dinosaurs at Ludwigsburg fest

By Carola Meusel
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Office

Most Americans are familiar with the “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” a TV classic based on the comic strip “Peanuts” by Charles M. Schulz. Every year, the character Linus faithfully sits in the pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin to appear. Every year, he’s let down.

If you’re like Linus and have a passion for pumpkins, you won’t be disappointed at the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival, where some of the biggest pumpkins in Europe will be on display.

This year’s 12th annual pumpkin festival will run through Nov. 6 at the Blühende Barock (garden area at the Ludwigsburg Castle) in Ludwigsburg. The festival is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For 2011, the castle’s garden area will transform into an adventurous “Jurassic Park” inspired world, displaying dinosaurs such as the Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Diplodocus and the Triceratops, which are all made out of pumpkins. Every year, the pumpkin festival features a different theme to attract visitors from all over Baden-Württemberg.

According to the castle’s Blühende Barock  website, Ludwigsburg’s festival is the world’s largest pumpkin festival. More than 400,000 pumpkins and over 450 different varieties from all over the world, ranging from edible to decorative, will be displayed throughout the event. 

“For all people who are into creative displays and themes, the pumpkin festival is a great way to experience all of this,” said Charles Howell, an expatriate American living in Ludwigsburg, who visits the festival every year.

Beside pumpkin displays of all sizes, colors and forms, the festival offers patrons the chance to sample various pumpkin-inspired foods and drinks ranging from pumpkin risotto, soup and spaghetti to pumpkin “Maultaschen” (Swabian ravioli), strudel, pumpkin candy and champagne.

“My absolute favorite is the pumpkin Maultaschen,” said Howell.   
Visitors can also find pumpkin seeds, oil, jam, liquor and decorations at many “Kürbisshops” (pumpkin stores) throughout the fest grounds.

On Sept. 18, the pumpkin boat race will be held at the Blühende Barock Lake in front of the Ludwigsburg Castle starting at 1 p.m. Pumpkin-canoeists will paddle across the lake in boats made from hollowed out pumpkins.

Another highlight during this year’s pumpkin festival will be the European championship for the heaviest pumpkin. The event will be held Oct. 9 at the Blühende Barock starting at 1:30 p.m. Patrons can look at the three heaviest pumpkins until the last day of the festival (Nov. 6), when they will be smashed in an annual tradition.

Since the pumpkin festival is a family event, the organizers also offer a “Family Halloween” on Oct. 22 from 2-7 p.m. Each family will be invited to carve a personal Halloween pumpkin. Children (12 years old and younger) dressed in Halloween costumes can enter the fest free of charge. They can also participate in a costume contest. The award ceremony for the spookiest costume will be held at 6 p.m. Free Halloween themed face paintings will also be available at the Blühende Barock from 2-6 p.m. that day.

Ludwigsburg’s Pumpkin Festival is a great way to channel your inner Linus and enjoy searching for your own “Great Pumpkin.”

The Blühende Barock/Ludwigsburg Castle is located at Mömpelgardstrasse 28, 71640 Ludwigsburg. Tickets cost €8 for adults and €3.90 for children 15 years old and younger. Family tickets (two adults and two children 15 years old and younger) cost €21.50. For those wishing to visit the castle, there is an English guided tour daily at 1:30 p.m. For details call civ. 07141-1820-04. For more information about the pumpkin festival and the program, visit www.kuerbisausstellung-ludwigsburg.de, www.blueba.de or www.juckerfarmart.ch.