Iconic detective Dick Tracy has spent eight decades on the comics page since Chester Gould invented the character in 1931. Although the story reflected the era’s Chicago gangland, Darrell Gambill wants the world to know it all started in Pawnee, now home to the Dick Tracy Headquarters.

“Gould was one-of-a-kind; he was the first to do what he’d done,” Gambill said.

Pawnee celebrates Dick Tracy Day on Oct. 1 in the Courthouse Square, using a festival to celebrate the town’s all-important contribution to culture.

right Pumpkin Palooza

Birthday cake will be served to celebrate the strip’s 80th birthday. Pawnee also boasts the largest Dick Tracy police parade in the world.

“What makes it the world’s largest is it’s the only one,” Gambill said.

A tireless crime-fighter would have been helpful for the good people of Wetumka when con artist F. Bam Morrison rolled into town in the ’50s and made off with more than $6,000.

“He was selling advanced tickets and setting up advanced arrangements for a circus coming to town,” said Vernon Stout, executive director of Wetumka’s Chamber of Commerce. “Come the day of the circus, he didn’t show up. ... They realized they’d been suckered, so might as well celebrate.”

A tradition was born: the annual Sucker Day Festival, this year held on Sept. 24 at the Wetumka City Park, with food, art, vendors and a parade.

“We have heard from other small communities that he did the same thing in other places,” Stout said. “At one time, the city leaders thought they’d made contact with him and invited him back, no penalties, just to be the parade marshal. He didn’t show. We’d been swindled again.”

Hobart’s fall festival doesn’t have a colorful backstory. Attendees just make do by shooting pumpkins as far as physics and the Federal Aviation Administration will allow, during Oct. 1’s Pumpkin Palooza and Punkin’ Chunkin’ Contest.

According to festival director Stephen Boyd, the sanctioned event to establish the state champion includes more than 10 chunkin’ contraptions, from catapults to air cannons, shooting 10-pound pumpkins up to 3,000 feet. Spectators will have an opportunity to fire one off, too.

Rather than destroy food, consume it at downtown Watonga’s Watonga Cheese Festival, Oct. 7-8. Now in its 35th year, it draws in about 8,000 cheese-lovers with tastings, fiber art and bicyclists trying to complete a round-trip ride to Geary before a train departing Geary arrives in Watonga.

Festival director Rhonda Olsen said the cheese food contest is among the most popular, with each year’s winners included in a cookbook published every other year. The favorite creation? Cheese fudge.

right Watonga Cheese Festival

“I hesitated to try it the first time, and then wish I hadn’t, because it’s pretty good,” Olsen said. “I can’t stop eating it now.”

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