Over the weekend of October 16 Woody Underwood and Ashley Watt attended the Keene, New Hampshipe Annual Pumpkin Festival. They reported having a great time observing and photographing the tens of thousands of pumpkins.
From the Keene Sentinal we read... The 19th annual Keene Pumpkin Festival eclipsed the city’s six-year-old jack-o’-lantern record, cramming 29,068 into the city’s downtown. That number was still short of the world record set by Boston.
Some 70,000 people crowded into Elm City, more than tripling its population Saturday, from places as far away as
the Czech Republic, England and Scotland, according to volunteers with Center Stage, the festival’s nonprofit organizer.
Last year, when the rainy weather kept many people home, there were just 22,568 carved, lit pumpkins at the festival.
The previous record, set in 2003, marked the city’s eighth world record — the first was set in 1992 during the second festival, which amassed 1,628 jack-o’-lanterns.
But in 2006, Beantown, which has a population of more than 600,000, took on Keene and won, with 30,128 gourds.
“I really felt that we still have the record,” said Bob Parent of Keene, who, along with his wife, Pat, has
attended every festival since its inception, when it was called the Harvest Festival. “Boston just has so many people. It’s pretty impressive what we’re able to do here.”
The Parents were playing host during the festival to their friend Laura Nielsen of Hampton. She said she was having a blast at her first festival experience.
“I just think this exemplifies the New England spirit,” she said. Then she dug her camera out of her bag and showed off a photo of the best pumpkin she’d seen all night, which featured a pi symbol.
“I was a math teacher,” she said. Go figure. “But I also liked this one, the classic smiley face.”
At one of the pumpkin log-in tents, Beth Lukin of Westmoreland took a breather as the pumpkin results were being tallied. She’s volunteered with Center Stage to help out at the festival for the past nine years.
“There’s a lot of camaraderie here. We’re a close-knit group,” she said of her fellow volunteers. “And it’s a
great event. It’s just the hometown spirit. I guess that’s a dying thing these days.”
During the record-setting year of 2003, Lukin could barely move through the downtown streets because of the crush of people. This year, though, the crowd seemed thinner, she said, even though there were more pumpkins.
Another volunteer, Linda Popovac of Walpole, said she moved to the area from Massachusetts because of the festival.
“I’ve always loved it,” she said. “I fell in love with the area when we visited for the festival.”
As the public took in the sights and sounds, police and firefighters staged at various points downtown kept order and made sure everyone was safe.
N.H. State Trooper Sean Eaton said his second experience at the festival was on par with the first.
“Nothing unusual, so far,” he said. “There seem to be a lot of families out. We’ve reunited two lost children
with their families. We’ve been answering questions, helping people find the bathrooms.”
Downtown parking is always at a premium during the festival, and some residents and business owners took advantage of the situation, turning a decent profit with their driveways and parking lots
Tom Stevens, owner of Tom’s Auto Services on Water Street, a quick walk from the festivities on Main Street, was charging $10 per vehicle, which he’s done for the past five or six years during the event.
“I was full a couple of times today,” he said as he walked through his lot, which holds about 70 vehicles. “It
really all depends on the weather, and it was a good day today.”