The chill in the air, the turning of the leaves, the smoke drifting from chimneys and the pumpkins crowding 91-year-old Ted Birkett's paddock - it must be time for the Collector Village Pumpkin Festival.
Mr Birkett's pumpkins are critical to the success of the festival. Each year they are pulled up and distributed among the townsfolk for cutting up. The pieces are delivered to the hall on the Friday night before the festival to be made into 300 litres of pumpkin soup, all according to Carolyn Hannan's secret recipe.
Regular watering from a bore on his property over the hot summer meant Mr Birkett supplied a good crop for this Sunday's festival. Not that he's overly concerned with knowing how many he's produced.
"You count 'em," the non-nonsense nonagenarian said.
It's salt-of-the-earth volunteers like Mr Birkett who have kept the Collector Village Pumpkin Festival thriving since 2003.
Last year's event attracted more than 16,000 people, transforming the village of about 250 residents north of Canberra on the Federal Highway.
The festival has struck a chord as it celebrates autumn, harvest, the simple pleasures of rural life and community.
The entry fees are each year ploughed back into local endeavours, whether it's supporting the local school or pony club, restoring headstones in the cemetery or buying equipment for the bushfire brigade.
"We're all volunteers who run it and we want to make it as good as we can," coordinator Gary Poile said.
"We listen and we change things if we need to."
One of the changes this year is more room for parking. A local farmer is letting his paddock be used for more overflow parking after last year's massive turn-out.
A big part of the festival's appeal is keeping true to its grassroots origins. It has competitions for pumpkin baking, pumpkin rolling and the biggest pumpkin. as well as cow-milking and sheep dog demonstrations. And it has a sense of humour.
The scarecrow building competition is a chance each year for residents to let their creative energies run wild.
There is also a sense of fun. Saturday morning will see 600 hay bales trucked in to make a hay maze for kids.
"Last year a mouse popped out of one of the bales and the kids spent the rest of the day trying to find it," Mr Poile said.
A new precinct has been added this tear, focused on the Uniting Church, featuring art, music and food.
Zero chance of rain is forecast for Collector on Sunday, with a top of 17 degrees expected.
"Perfect autumn weather," Mr Poile said.
The Collector Village Pumpkin Festival is on Sunday, May 5 from 10am to 4pm. Entry is $10 for adults and $5 for seniors. Children aged 15 and under have free entry. Take the Federal Highway to Collector and then follow the signs to the festival site in Bourke Street. More details at pumpkinfestival.com.au