PUMPKIN FANS: Crowds gathered to see the street parade at the 2018 Goomeri Pumpkin Festival.
PUMPKIN FANS: Crowds gathered to see the street parade at the 2018 Goomeri Pumpkin Festival. Contributed

Gourdness gracious - more than 17,000 people are headed here

THE countdown is on to that last weekend in May when all things orange descend on Goomeri.

The inaugural Goomeri Pumpkin Festival was held on June 1, 1997 under the name Goomeri, Town of 1911, Pumpkin Festival.

During the 1990s, Goomeri, like many other rural areas, was in a time of prolonged drought and water shortages. Farmers and local businesses were doing it tough and morale was at an all time low.

A town meeting was held to discuss ideas for improving the town's morale and lagging business economy. At the meeting, one of the ideas was to have a festival of some kind. As pumpkins had been traditionally grown in the area over a number of years, the idea of a Pumpkin Festival was born.

A small group of enthusiastic supporters banded together to organise the first festival. The fun part of the festival was to have people rolling pumpkins down a hill.

The idea of rolling pumpkins down a hill was so way out that it was appealing and thus the Great Australian Pumpkin Roll was born and Policeman's Hill got its name.

The purpose of the festival was to bring people and money into the town's flagging economy and to extend country hospitality.

The first festival had an attendance of about 1000 and was a raging success. There were 71 pumpkin rollers and the Great Australian Pumpkin Roll had made its mark in the history of the town.

The Great Australian Pumpkin roll has continued to grow and, in 2009, there were more than 600 pumpkin rollers.

The festival has expanded over the years to include pumpkin bowls, decorated pumpkins, giant pumpkin competition, pumpkin pull, pumpkin pageant, pumpkin quilt challenge, decorated tea towel competition and the pumpkin power shot put.

Add to these events the many market stalls, the heritage and outback street parade, whip cracking, working dog displays, horsemanship displays, roving entertainment and great pumpkin food, and you have a family friendly, entry free event for everyone to enjoy.

Goomeri Pumpkin Festival will take place May 24-26.