The 10th annual Orville Tomky Pumpkin Game will take place at Grizzly Gym Friday.
The last basketball game between Crowley County and Fowler will have the winning team taking home a traveling trophy, a commemorative t-shirt and bragging rights for the year. The shirts are being made by Graphic Designs Onc. of Cheraw.
Orville Tomky has long been a benefactor of the children of Fowler.
On a crisp October day in 1986, Orville and Loretta Tomky loaded up their pickup truck with extra pumpkins and drove to Crowley County Elementary School. This was the beginning of a tradition that has lasted for 32 years.
In 1987, Orville had the school load up their buses and let the children pick their own pumpkins.
In the years that ensued, there were two rules established — one pumpkin per child, and the children have to be able to carry the pumpkins themselves.
In later years when the pumpkin supply was more plentiful, Orville invited the children from Fowler Elementary School to partake in the festivities. In other years, Orville has allowed other groups to come out and pick pumpkins after Crowley County and Fowler finished picking theirs.
When asked why he gave away free pumpkins, Orville said, "When I was growing up during the Great Depression, we couldn't afford a pumpkin, so I want kids today to be able to have a free pumpkin." Orville passed away in August 2016.
In 2011, Orville passed the torch to his son, John, and grandson, David. It was up to them to plant the pumpkin crop, under Orville's guidance, of course. After the drought years of 2012-13, the 2018 growing season provided a bumper crop. It was David's turn to grow pumpkins and after a rough start to the growing season, there were enough pumpkins for the elementary schools in Fowler, Crowley County and Kids' Campus.
John will stream the games on www.myhometeamsports.com using the streaming services of www.network1sports.com. Listeners at home will be able to listen on their tablets, iPhones and Androids, as well as their home computers.
John hopes the 10th annual Pumpkin Game will add to the tradition.
"There is nothing like small town USA and sports rivalries between schools like Fowler and Crowley County. The annual Orville Tomky Pumpkin Game outlived Orville and, hopefully, outlives me."
This past year, the trophy for the boys resided in Crowley County and the girls in Fowler. Where will the trophy reside in 2019-20?