Blackwood, New Jersey comes alive on the first Sunday of October with entertainers, vendors, shoppers, and families who converge on the area for the Blackwood Pumpkin Festival.\u00a0 This tradition began in 1992, and this year marks its 27th year. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of visitors have attended. The festival, presented by Mainstage Center for the Arts (MCA), takes place Sunday, October 7th, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., in and around the area of MCA\u2019s Performing Arts Academy, 27 S. Black Horse Pike, with the Black Horse Pike will be closed from the intersection of Church Road through Lake Avenue. The rain date is Sunday, October 14th.\r\n\r\nSince parking in downtown Blackwood fills up quickly, free parking with a free shuttle bus service to the festival is available at Highland Regional High School, 450 Erial Road, Blackwood, NJ 08012.\r\n\r\nThe festival features amusements, food, music, shopping, live entertainment, pumpkin painting, hayrides, moon bounces, a petting zoo, face painting, scarecrow building, costume contests, puppy parade; talent contest; Farmer\u2019s Market with fresh produce, Mainstage studio treasure hunt, and more.\u00a0 More 101 FM is radio sponsor and personalities will be there throughout the day providing fun giveaways.\r\n\r\nThe primary sponsors for the event are: Horizon Foundation, Ryan Bansky Expert Tree Service, More 101 FM, Today\u2019s Shopper, and Newspaper Media Group,\r\n\r\n\u201cAs Mainstage celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, we're thrilled that the South Jersey community has been able to enjoy the Blackwood Pumpkin Festival for 27 of those years. It's such a fun way for friends and families to spend a day celebrating the joys of the fall season,\u201d said Anne Marie Weaver, Director of Special Projects, MCA. \u201cWe appreciate all those who visit the event, which raises funds for Mainstage\u2019s year-round performing arts programs for kids and their families.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0 Those programs include Harmony, high school show choir; Encore, middle school show choir, Mainstage\u2019s School of Dance, and the Performing Arts Academy. Most of these groups all are performing at the festival, along with other local entertainers including the Cherry Hill East High School Mime Troupe, Philadelphia/Mainline Ukulele Group. For others who like to get in on the act, there\u2019s a Talent Contest, Costume Parade/contest, Pumpkin Carving Contest, Great Cake Bake Off, Puppy Parade (costume contest for dogs), and Ukulele Jam Session in the Blackwood Fire Company parking lot. Here are details for entering the contests:\r\n\r\nCostume Parade/Contest \u00a0\u2013for those up to age 12, 11:30 am and 1:15 p.m., in the park at the corner of Railroad and West Lake Ave. Register 15 minutes before the contest of your choice at the Mainstage Information Booth\r\nTalent Contest\u2013 sponsored by Joseph W. Bowley, CPA and Sign &amp; Design, for ages 5-18. Performances will be assigned between 11:15 \u2013 2:45 pm. Participants must pre-register by October 3rd. For details about registration, please visit http://mainstage.org/about/pumpkin-festival/\r\nPumpkin Carving Contest \u2013 sponsored by McDonald\u2019s Blackwood. Please bring already carved or decorated field-grown pumpkins to Mainstage\u2019s Academy Hall, 27 S. Black Horse Pike between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. \u00a0\r\nCake Decorating \u2013 sponsored by Zallie\u2019s Shop Rite. Drop off Academy Hall \u2013 11 a.m. \u2013 2 p.m. \u00a0 \u00a0- winners announced at 3:00 - Academy Hall Stage. Rules will be available at\u00a0 http://mainstage.org/about/pumpkin-festival/\r\nPuppy Parade - For a howling good time, bring your dog in costume to compete in the Puppy Parade, sponsored by Winslow Animal Hospital. Prizes will be given out for several categories. 12 noon and\u00a01:45 pm\u00a0- in the park at the corner of Railroad and West Lake Ave. Register 15 minutes before the contest of your choice at the Mainstage Information Booth winners to be announced immediately after at parade\r\nIn addition to the primary sponsors listed above, the Pumpkin Festival sponsors include Bowman and Company, LLP; Joseph W. Bowley; CPA; Meadows Diner;\u00a0 Beneficial Bank; Castor Auto &amp; Truck Repair; Comegno Law Group, PC; Lamp Post Diner; Republic Bank; Penzone Realty; Y.A.L.E. School; Zallie\u2019s Shop Rite; South Jersey Gas, First Colonial Bank; Two-Two Creative; Preferred Party Rentals; McDonald\u2019s (Gloucester Township); Valleybrook Country Club; Rahn AllGreen Turf Management; SERVPRO Blackwood/Gloucester Township; Mayor David Mayer and Gloucester Township Town Council; Senator Madden, Assemblyman Moriarty, Assemblywoman Mosquera; Winslow Animal Hospital; First Choice Solutions; Bob\u2019s Garage; DPI of Cherry Hill; Sign &amp; Design; Gardner Funeral Home; Life Storage Blackwood; Chews Florist; Rite Aid; Sports Specialties;; Blackwood West Development; Blackwood Lake Development, Township of Gloucester; Gloucester Township Chamber of Commerce; Camden County Regional Chamber of Commerce; Camden County College; Gloucester Township Rotary Public Library; Gloucester Township Public Schools, Black Horse Pike Regional School District: New Jersey State Council on the Arts; and the National Endowment for the Arts.\r\n\r\nFor more information about the event, or to rent a booth, visit www.mainstage.org or call (856) 302-6485.