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Somethin' Pumpkin Festival Announces Winners

DespereauxGASTON COUNTY, N.C. – Organizers of the 6th Annual Somethin' Pumpkin Cooking Contest and Festival today announced the winners of the Cooking Contest and Pumpkin Decorating Contest. The Somethin’ Pumpkin event is an annual tradition of fall favorites – food, family, and fun. Developed by NC Cooperative Extension. The festival encourages families to connect with local agriculture, as well as to one another. This year’s event was held virtually on Saturday, October 3 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and included the annual pumpkin cooking contest and pumpkin decorating contest, with an online awards program. 

"We were excited to see the number of families and youth who participated in this year’s events, especially with the uncertainty of COVID.  This event is designed to encourage both youth and adults to spend time cooking – especially with foods and recipes that may be new to them," said Linda J. Minges, Family & Consumer Science Agent with NC Cooperative Extension. "We look forward to beginning planning for next year's event."

Pumpkin Decorating Contest Winners Announced

Winnie the PoohGaston County Public Library received 19 entries for its annual Pumpkin Decorating Contest. Participants were asked to decorate small pumpkins based on their favorite children's books' characters and themes. 

"It is always a treat to see kids incorporate their favorite books into their design for the pumpkin and I was so pleased that we continued to see so many creative entries after making the decision to go virtual this year," said Emily Winfrey, Youth Services Manager with Gaston County Public Library.

The pumpkins, in the categories of Kindergarten-2nd Grade, 3rd-5th Grade, Family, and Teen/Adult, were judged based on their creativity, quality of work based on the age category, and the use of the children's storybook theme. Congratulations to our winners: 

  • Creepy Pair of UnderwearFirst Place, Kindergarten-2nd Grade: Creepy Pair of Underwear - submitted by Rhett Edwards
  • First Place, 3rd-5th Grade: The Princess in Black - submitted by Katriel Jackson
  • First Place, Family: The Very Hungry Caterpillar - submitted by Rory Felton & Family
  • First Place, Teen/Adult: The Tale of Despereaux - submitted by Iliyana Jackson

Following Saturday's event, all pumpkins were posted virtually on the Gaston County Public Library Youth Services Facebook Page. Library Patrons voted virtually for the "People's Choice" winner the week of October 5th -10th via the Facebook page; GCPL announced the winners on Monday, October 12th.

People’s Choice Winners Announced

  • Bubble GuppiesFamily Category: The Caldwell Family for Winnie the Pooh
  • Grades K-2 Category: Rhett Edwards for Creepy Pair of Underwear
  • Grades 3-5 Category: Jackson Caldwell for Never Die Easy: Autobiography of Walter Payton
  • Teen/Adult Category: Brandy Caldwell for Bubble Guppies

Somethin' Pumpkin Cooking Contest Winners Announced

There were more than 40 entries submitted for the Somethin’ Pumpkin Cooking Contest; both youth and adults participated in the event, which included a wide variety of creative and delicious foods. Through the sponsorship of the Gaston County Farm Bureau, prizes were awarded in each category: first place - $100, second place - $50, and third place - $25. A grand prize of $200 was awarded to the overall contest winner. The eight contest categories include: 1) Main Dish, 2) Desserts, 3) Miscellaneous, 4) Home Grown, 5) Youth (ages 8-12): Main Dish & Miscellaneous, 6) Youth: Ages 8-12 – Desserts, 7) Youth: Ages 13-18: Main Dish & Miscellaneous, and 8) Youth: Ages 13-18: Desserts. 

Princess In Black"This event is a fun way for families to spend time together and children to learn life skills of cooking. It was exciting to see the level of creativity in recipe selection and preparation," said Emily P. Crater, Liaison with Gaston County Farm Bureau.

Congratulations to all contest winners, including the Grand Prize Winner, which was Pumpkin Lasagna, submitted by Lila St. Romain of Gastonia. Somethin’ Pumpkin organizers gave special recognition to St. Romain, who was a youth contestant in the Youth (Ages 8-12) Desserts category.

Main Dish Category Winners: 

  • First Place: Pumpkin Lasagna with Spinach- submitted by Jamie Smith of Lincolnton
  • Second Place: Pumpkin Soup - Submitted by Christopher Smith of Mooresville
  • Third Place: Pumpkin Potato Corn Chowder - submitted by Sandra Long of Gastonia

Dessert Category Winners:

  • Walter PaytonFirst Place: Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream with Bourbon & Spice Praline Pecans- submitted by Jamie Smith of Lincolnton
  • Second Place: Pumpkin Mousse in a Cup - submitted by Deborah Mayfield of Shelby
  • Third Place: Pumpkin & Dulce De Leche - submitted by Maria Canseco of Gastonia 

Miscellaneous Category Winners:

  • First Place: Comfort Pumpkin Drink - submitted by Ann Helms of Gastonia
  • Second Place: Appetizer Pumpkin Spice Latte Dip - submitted by Christopher Smith of Mooresville
  • Third Place: Vegan Pumpkin Morning Glory Muffin - submitted by Jamie Smith of Lincolnton

Youth: 8-12 Main Dish & Miscellaneous Winners:

  • First Place: Pumpkin Dip - submitted by Shannah Spargo of Aiken, SC
  • Second Place: Tortellini with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce - submitted by Kordak Genovese of Gastonia

Youth (Ages 8-12): Dessert Category Winners:

  • First Place: Pumpkin Everything Cake - submitted by Shannon Spargo of Aiken, SC
  • Second Place: Chocolate Pumpkin Truffles - submitted by Therese Eitzenberger of Charlotte
  • Third Place: Peanut Butter Pumpkin Fudge- submitted by Kordak Genovese of Gastonia

Youth (Ages 13-18): Dessert Winners:

  • First Place: Pumpkin Cheesecake Bar cookies- submitted by Kelli McGuire of Maiden
  • Second Place: White Chocolate Pumpkin Truffles- submitted by Addison Brown of Lincolnton
  • Third Place: Best Pumpkin Spice Blondies - submitted by Bronwen St. Romain of Gastonia

Home Grown Category Winners:

  • First Place: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread - submitted by Linda Carpenter of Kings Mountain
  • Second Place: Pumpkin Butter Pound Cake with Caramel Frosting - submitted by Adrienne Jones of Lincolnton
  • Third Place: Baked Pumpkin Donut Holes - submitted by Addison Brown of Lincolnton

Very Hungry CaterpillarFor more information about Somethin' Pumpkin, contact Linda Minges at 704.922.2127 or Contest recipes are also available online at Visit us on Facebook to view Somethin' Pumpkin photos: 

Many thanks to the many volunteers, partners, and sponsors that made this year's event a great success: City of Bessemer City, Town of Dallas, Gaston County Farm Bureau, Ford's Seed Store, Friends of Gaston County Public Library, Gaston College – Nutrition and Dietetics Program, Gaston County Sheriff's Office, Gaston County Public Library, Gaston County Tourism Department, Lineberger's Farm, Johnny's Selected Seeds, KTC Broadcasting, Minges Printing Company,  North Carolina Extension & Community Association, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program – Gaston County, and What's Up Shopper. 


Grand Prize Recipe – Pumpkin Lasagna - submitted by Lila St. Romain of Gastonia, NC

Grand Prize Winner Pumpkin LasagnaIngredients: 

Cream cheese mousse: 

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pumpkin pudding: 

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) 
2 (5.1 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding 
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups whole milk, divided
2 (15 ounce) boxes gingersnap cookies 

Caramel sauce: 

½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup or honey
1 tablespoon water
¼ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
kosher salt 

Spiced whipped cream: 

2 cups cold heavy cream
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg 


  1. Make the cream cheese mousse. In a large bowl with an electric hand mixer (or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment), beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar together until smooth. Gradually add the heavy cream and whip until doubled in volume. Add the vanilla and stir to combine; set aside. 
  2. Make the pumpkin pudding. In a medium bowl, beat the pumpkin, vanilla pudding mix, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1 ½ cups of the milk until smooth. The mixture should be thick enough to sit up on itself. If the mixture is too thick, beat in the remaining milk until smooth. 
  3. Layer the lasagna. Line the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish with a layer of gingersnap cookies, staggering them as needed to cover as much of the dish as possible. Pour half of the pudding mixture onto the cookies and spread into an even layer. Dollop on half of the cream cheese mousse and spread into an even layer. Repeat with the remaining cookies, pudding mixture, and mousse. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight. 
  4. Make the caramel. Stir the sugar, corn syrup or honey, and water together in a microwave-safe cup or bowl. A glass measuring cup or a sturdy coffee mug are ideal. Microwave on high until the sugar just starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Carefully remove the mug from the microwave and rest for 1 minute. The color of the sugar should continue to deepen. Very carefully add the cream, butter, and salt. Whisk with a fork until smooth and set aside. 
  5. Make the spiced whipped cream. In a large bowl (or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment), whisk the cream with 2 tablespoons of the caramel sauce to stiff peaks. Whisk in the cinnamon and nutmeg. Spread in an even layer over the lasagna. 
  6. Serve the dessert lasagna. Cut the lasagna into 12 pieces and serve drizzled with the caramel sauce.