Residents who enjoy baking with pumpkin flavoring at this time of year can show off their recipes during the city of Bexley's annual Harvest Festival.

The free event will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, at Jeffrey Park and Mansion, 165 N. Parkview Ave.

The inaugural Pumpkin Dessert Bake-Off drew 12 participants last year, and the city is inviting anyone who wants to enter the contest to do so this year, with no limit on the number of contestants, said Sam Metcalf, the city's spokesman.

"It can be a pumpkin spice, a pumpkin puree," he said of entries. "It just has to have that pumpkin flavor."

Judging this year's competition will be Marla Burton, who won last year's contest; Bexley City Council President Lori Ann Feibel; Elaine Phillips Pelz, executive director of the Bexley Area Chamber of Commerce; Sheila Straub, Bexley Community Foundation board vice-chairwoman; Dawn Freese, Capital University's business operations manager of facilities; and Jack Spiller, Capital University student-body president.

As part of the festival, Bexley Mayor Ben Kessler will make chili and there will be other food offerings, said Barb Greiner, a recreation director with the Bexley Recreation and Parks Department, which organizes the festival.

"We wanted to provide a place for families where they don't have to spend money unless they choose to," she said. "The only things that cost are the food items."

The Moo Moo Express Car Wash, which is scheduled to open a new location in Bexley on Saturday, Oct. 13, at 2080 E. Livingston Ave., will provide a game station to benefit the Developmental Assets Resource Network, a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to Bexley City School District students and supports the Recreation and Parks Department's Youth Scholarship Fund.

"There will be a lot of opportunities for free prizes," Greiner said.

Other activities include a corn maze and an Enchanted Walk, where performers dressed as characters from children's movies will greet visitors. Attendees can also have photos taken with performers dressed as Disney princesses. Local entertainer Carroll Baker will present magic shows.

"We make sure it's a safe place to take your kids during Halloween," Greiner said. "We make sure we always have opportunities for families to have fun."

To submit a recipe for the Pumpkin Dessert Bake-Off, email Metcalf at smetcalf@bexley.org. For more information about the festival, go to bexley.org/recreation.

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