On Oct. 22, Starkville businesses, citizens and students gathered downtown for the second annual Talladegourd 500, hosted by the Mississippi State University Idea Shop in conjunction with the Greater Starkville Development Partnership.
Jeffrey Rupp, the director of outreach for the college of business and the MSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach (E-Center), worked with the E-center Idea Shop to put this event together.
"We did this event last year for the first time, and the Idea Shop was relatively new then," Rupp said. "It's a public maker space where folks can come in and make things. We wanted folks to get to know us, and we wanted to bring them into the Idea Shop. So we thought we'd have a pumpkin race where people would pay money and come into the Idea Shop where they would paint the pumpkin, put wheels and axles onto the pumpkin. So, they would use the Idea Shop to make their pumpkin, and then we raced them down Main Street during Pumpkinpalooza last year. After the race, the money was then given to charity."
Funds were collected from this year's Talladegourd 500 as well and were given to two different charities. There were two divisions this year, the first division being the business division which helped raise money for the Oktibbeha County Humane Society. The second division was the family division which helped raise money for projects for children at the Idea Shop who are not able to afford it ,like the Boys & Girls Club of the Golden Triangle-Starkville Unit.
Last year, wheels and axles were put on each pumpkin, but this year, chassis were used. The chassis were built out of wood with wheels and a big spike, so each pumpkin had a uniformed look.
"The pumpkins this year have been reengineered, and they are going to sail down the street," Rupp said. "I am anticipating massive pumpkin carnage."
Even though the event is the same, Rupp acknowledged the differences this year with no Pumpkinpalooza and a pandemic, however, he said he hoped the light-hearted nature of the event persists.
"Last year, it was absolutely packed," Rupp said. "I was surprised to see how many folks came out and part of that was because of Pumpkinpalooza, as well as the fact there was no pandemic. To see adults and kids just laughing when the goofy pumpkins went sailing down the ramp and then crashing into each other, it's just fun to be involved in the community like that."
Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill was also in attendance at this year's event. She gave insight into what makes events like these so special.
"If you look and see all who is here, it is all young folks," Spruill said. "I think that is part of what's fun. One of my goals is to bring the kids, and by kids, I mean university and high school kids, together and downtown to do things. This is a creative kind of thing, so I am really excited that we have the younger group who have been engaged and doing events like this."
Landon Casey, a 24-year-old MSU graduate with a degree in computer engineering, became involved with the Idea Shop after he was previously involved with the E-Center. This was Casey's first time at the Talladegourd 500 and he believes the Idea Shop is a great opportunity for those in the community.
"With the Idea Shop, I love the ability of really anybody to be able to walk in and make whatever they have in their heads," Casey said. "That is probably the cool thing about the Idea Shop and just the fact that we can give people access to tools and technology that they otherwise might not have access to."
Even though many people were not able to attend due to the pandemic, those who were in attendance added to the racing experience. Many businesses and families entered this year's event with their pumpkins, but there was only one winner. Out of all of the pumpkins, Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill's pumpkin won overall.