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How Pumpkin Patch craft show has grown over the last 40 years

By Maura Wery

Four decades of fun and fund-raising have created plenty of memories.

More are coming as Manhattan’s Pumpkin Patch craft show, which opens Friday, will feature around 150 vendors in three buildings — including Pottorf Hall at CiCo —but the event had far more humble beginnings.

Kay Stewart, current co-chair for the Pumpkin Patch, said that the very first show in 1973 was held in the lobby of what is now Commerce Bank.

“We sold baked goods, a few paintings, and arts and crafts,” Stewart said.

She said the overall goal for the show was to help raise funds for what was then Memorial Hospital (now Mercy) Auxiliary Board.

Margie Michal, senior director of the Mercy Community Health Foundation, receives the funds from Pumpkin Patch every year. Michal said those funds wind up in a variety of different places – including the Mary Lindquist Memorial Endowment Scholarship, which helps Mercy employees who apply for higher education and training.

The rest of the money is used for improvements to the hospital.

Michal said that last year the funds went to buy new grade recliners for the hospital rooms, replacing equipment that had been in decline for several years.

Through the years, word of mouth from the crafters helped the event grow, to the point where there was a waiting list for crafters.

Once that list had maxed out, the co-chairs at the time decided to move the show to Pottorf Hall.

Pumpkin Patch is now the second-largest fundraiser for the Auxiliary, raising around $13,000 to $15,000 per year.

“There are around 5,000 people who attend every year,” Devlin said.

She made the point that the show is now more than just a weekend for craft lovers, and that lots of area residents consider Pumpkin Patch a great way to welcome in the fall season.

Food has become another huge seller at Pumpkin Patch.

Stewart said the menu hasn’t changed for 40 years: hot dogs, sloppy Joes, cinnamon rolls, and biscuits and gravy.

For this 40th anniversary, the co-chairs have arranged some special activities. Devlin said they would have a children’s craft area in Wreath Hall this year, and there will be a live broadcast on Friday and a band on Saturday. Four decades of fun and fund-raising have created plenty of memories.

More are coming as Manhattan

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