Bushwick’s very own, totally unique fall festival is almost upon us!

¡Calabazafest! 2016, the 7th annual neighborhood celebration of the autumn harvest bounty, Halloween and Dia de los Muertos, will take place next weekend on Sunday, October 30 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Maria Hernandez Park.

Flocks of attendees are expected at the fun, free family friendly outdoor event, which will include mariachi and dance performances, friendly clown appearances, children’s activities including pumpkin carving, face painting, mask making and a costume contest, a mini farmer’s market selling fresh produce, eggs and apple cider, and cooking demonstrations and tastings.

¡Calabazafest! is organized by EcoStation:NY, the local nonprofit organization dedicated to sustainable urban agriculture education, community and youth empowerment, and food justice that operates the Bushwick Farmers’ Market and Bushwick Campus Farm.

The festival is also supported by a plethora of other local institutions that are contributing their talents and resources, including the NYC Mariachi Conservatory, Mazarte Dance Company, who will present “Mexican heritage dances in ceremonial costume,” El Puente Leaders for Peace and Justice, who are running a face painting station and a Sugar Skull mask making workshop for children; Just Food, who will present a healthy and seasonal cooking lesson led by community chef Fadhylla Saballos, and a festival puppet presence by People’s Collaborative Arts, one of the groups who made the amazing art for the People’s Climate March.

The ¡Calabazafest! tradition started in 2009, when EcoStation threw a fell festival at the Linden-Bushwick Community Garden. It was one of the nascent organization’s first events; that first year, it was called Pumpkinfest!.

Sean-Michael Fleming, EcoStation’s co-founder and executive director, remembers Pumpkinfest fondly. “My favorite memory from that event is taking kids on guided tours of the Secret Garden Farm (our first urban farm) dressed as ‘Zachary B. Zombie,’ to ‘find my zombie friends,'” he tells Bushwick Daily.

“There were stops along the path through the wooded section, and characters (volunteers) would emerge an interact with the kids. Finally I came to a full stop and announced, ‘I don’t think I’ll ever find my friends!’ — at which point several zombies popped up from under piles of leaves on the ground. I think some of those kids are still running in terror!”

The Pumpkinfest! Crew in 2009. Photo courtesy of Sean-Michael Fleming.

In addition to being a lot of fun, the event is very mindfully conceived. Organizers are doing their best to ensure it’s a zero-waste event: “All consumables (plates napkins, et cetera) are made from renewable plant materials, and we’ll be composting on-site. The compost will then go to Bushwick Campus Farm’s compost bins to ‘cook’ for a while, before being used to enrich the soils there,” explains Fleming.

EcoStation welcomes any parties interested in volunteering, whether they’re individuals, organizations that want to be a part of the event, or even performers—if you’d like to pitch in, email sean at eco station ny dot org!

RSVP on Facebook—and have a great time celebrating the fall, Bushwick!

Featured image: a zombie Mariachi performance of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller!” at ¡Calabazafest! 2013. Lucia Reed for Bushwick Daily.