The City of Miami Springs has many annual traditions and right up there in the top five every year is the Harvest Festival put on by Poinciana United Methodist Church and its director, Mandy Weeks.
Last Monday, Oct. 14 many volunteers were set to crowd the median on Curtiss Parkway between Grace Lutheran Church and Fair Havens. The occasion was the traditional unloading of the pumpkins off the back of a tracker trailer rig where people line up assembly-line style and pass the pumpkins along into the tent, thus signifying the official start of the event.
But Weeks got the bad news late Sunday night that the truck, en route from New Mexico, was delayed due to weather and mechanical problems. Not to despair, the pumpkins arrived late Wednesday afternoon (Oct. 16) and, once unloaded, the PUMC Harvest Festival was off and going for the 28th consecutive year.
“Yeah, unfortunately that was a phone call I didn’t need to get last night as I had so many people lined up to volunteer to unload the pumpkins,” said Weeks, who has been a part of the event since its inception and the director for the last six years. “I had to make a lot of phone calls to let people know, but it’s all good and we’re looking forward to the arrival of the pumpkins and another terrific event.”
The event itself will run through Wednesday, Oct. 30 and everyone is welcome to come by and enjoy homemade pies and breads, baked goods and, of course, pumpkins. Lots of them of all different shapes and sizes.
“How many years have I been doing it,” Weeks asked rhetorically? “All I know is my son was 5 or 6 and now he’s 29, so that means many years,” said Weeks. “But it’s something I never get tired of doing. Even though it can be hectic, it has become such a rewarding thing because you see people helping out who starting coming to it when they were little kids. It has become such a family community-oriented thing, which makes it priceless.”
Event hours will be Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 8:30 p.m. with the traditional fresh pumpkin bread, pies and muffins sold on a daily basis.
On Friday, Oct. 25, the Youth Praise Band from PUMC will hold a special concert in front of the tent beginning at 7 p.m. and the following day will come “Family Day at the Patch” on Saturday, Oct. 26 from 3 to 6 p.m. Family Day will include lots of games and face painting for children of all ages.
As hectic and crazy as things can get for Weeks, she then settles down and talks about a moment last year that tugged at her heart.
“There was an old man from Fair Havens who would cross the street every day and just watch everything that was going on,” said Weeks. “You could tell he really just enjoyed doing that. Then one day towards the end he took out his wallet and you could see he had no money in it but really wanted a loaf of pumpkin bread. When I handed it over to him and told him to take it and that he didn’t have to pay, he started to get teary-eyed and emotional. When things like that happen, it keeps everything in perspective and makes any amount of trouble worthwhile.”
For more information or to find out about other events, contact Weeks at 305-984-5773 or the PUMC church office at 305-888-0641.