30,581 lit Jack-O- Lanterns Sat. Night – but could it be?
The last hurrah for famous Keene Pumpkin Festival expected to be its biggest year yet
If there was a king or queen of pumpkin festivals the crown would go to the Keene Pumpkin Festival in Keene, NH.
The Keene Pumpkin Festival isn’t just any ordinary pumpkin festival. Sure, there is plenty of food, entertainment, games, vendors, crafters and other fun but most importantly there are pumpkins. I’m not talking about a couple hundred pumpkins decorating the main streets of Keene; I’m talking about several thousand pumpkins as far as the eye can see. In fact, the pumpkins are the centerpiece and main attraction of this popular festival.
The Keene Pumpkin Festival brings so many nostalgic memories for a lot of Granite Staters and sadly, it’s rumored that this will be the last year for this granddaddy of pumpkin festivals.
Perhaps I should back up a bit to 1991 when the Keene Pumpkin Festival first started. The modest first Keene Pumpkin Festival was held in October of 1991 when 600 pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns were on display. Over the years the festival’s popularity grew and so did the number of pumpkins. Over a ten year time period the number of pumpkins grew from 600 to an astounding 22,000 pumpkins in 2001. In the mid and late 2000s the number of pumpkins hovered around 25,000-28,000 pumpkins; the Keene Pumpkin Festival was known for setting Guinness World Records and then breaking those records the following year.
Now, the Keene Pumpkin Festival will be celebrating its 20th anniversary milestone and its swan song in the same year.
If you’re wondering why the Festival is coming to an end it’s simply because it is a victim of its own success, or at least that’s the word going around town. While the Festival is fun for attendees it’s a huge undertaking for businesses and event planners. Having thousands of people visit your city for one weekend is great but it takes a lot of time, effort and money to put on such an event. After all, the event is free to attend and so is parking which makes it difficult for the city to recoup funds. From what I gather the Festival has simply grown to be too much for the city and the festival organizers.
But enough about rumors, speculations and sad news. The 20th Annual Keene Pumpkin Festival is being held on Friday, October 15 and Saturday, October 16 and you can bet this will be the biggest and best Pumpkin Festival this state has ever seen. I think this is the year that the Festival will break 30,000 pumpkins.
Now you’re probably wondering where all of this gourds come from. Basically, they come from event attendees who carve their own pumpkins and bring them to display at the Pumpkin Festival. Anywhere from 40,000 to 70,000 people can be expected to attend the annual Pumpkin Festival and I imagine that all attendance and pumpkin records will be shattered this year.
All of the pumpkins that are brought to the event are displayed throughout the downtown (Main Street) area and at night they are lit up showcasing one of the largest jack-o-lantern displays in the world.
On Friday evening it’s all about live music, food and the initial drop off of pumpkins.
Saturday is when the real fun kicks into high gear. While you’re checking out the massive displays of pumpkins there will be live music, entertainment, crafters, vendors and plenty of food. There’s also a parade, pie eating contest and fireworks to cap off the day of excitement.
If you’re even contemplating going to the Keene Pumpkin Festival this year I strongly encourage you to check it out. Again, parking and admission are free, and there will be shuttle services from various parking lots to the downtown area. A map detailing more information regarding parking and pumpkin locations is also available.
And while you’re there, make sure you take a moment to thank the event organizers and volunteers who have worked so hard to make this event so successful for the past two decades.