Pumpkin Fest (New Hampshire)
|Let it Shine! Pumpkin Festival|
A few of the tens of thousands of pumpkins on display at the 2000 Keene Pumpkin Festival
|Genre||Autumn, Halloween, pumpkin lighting|
|Frequency||Last Saturday of October|
|Location(s)||Keene, New Hampshire, United States (1991-2014)
Laconia, New Hampshire, United States (2015)
|Organized by||Let it Shine, Inc. (since 2011)|
|Sponsor||Zippo Manufacturing Company|
The Let it Shine! Pumpkin Festival (also known as the Keene Pumpkin Festival from 1991 to 2014, and the Laconia Pumpkin Festival in 2015; often referred to as Pumpkin Fest) is a yearly celebration that was previously held in Keene, New Hampshire, United States before Halloween. Each year, New Hampshire residents and citizens attempt to amass the largest number of lit jack-o'-lanterns in one place, trying to meet or beat the world record (which the city of Keene held for many years). After college students in Keene rioted during the 2014 festival, and the Keene City Council rejected the festival's annual permit for the following year, Laconia hosted the festival in 2015.
For the first decade of its existence, the Keene Pumpkin Festival regularly set the record for the most lit jack-o'-lanterns, culminating in the figure (as recognized by the Guinness World Records) of 28,952 lit jack-o'-lanterns on October 25, 2003, but this was broken when Boston, Massachusetts, collected 30,128 on October 21, 2006. Keene took the record back with a total of 30,581 on October 19, 2013.
The organizers attempt yearly to beat the record by encouraging businesses, organizations, schools and individuals to create and donate jack-o'-lanterns which are displayed on many enormous banks of shelves and all available surfaces around the center of town. The festivities also include fireworks, music, and food, and draw in people from all over New Hampshire and adjoining states. Almost immediately after the festival is over, the pumpkins are hauled away by volunteer work crews and given to pig farmers, to use as food.
The event is held on a Saturday in mid-to-late-October. Keene Pumpkin Festival 2009 was held on Saturday, October 17, and an estimated 70,000 people attended the event. The official total, announced on October 21, was 29,762 pumpkins, a new Keene record, but not enough to beat the world record. The largest ever crowd to attend the event was in 2006, which drew an estimated 80,000 people from around the world to downtown Keene. By comparison, the population of Keene is nearly 23,000.
In 2010, the Keene Pumpkin Festival organizers, Center Stage Cheshire County, stepped down from running the event, leaving it in limbo for 2011. The festival was able to secure new organizers, however, and the Pumpkin Festival continued in 2011, taking place on October 22.
During the 2014 festival, large parties involving Keene State College students and visitors from several other colleges in the area, led to a series of riots less than a mile from the festival grounds. The Keene City Council subsequently voted not to grant a permit for the next year's festival. Organizers arranged for the event to be moved to Laconia for 2015. The Laconia festival was held on October 24, 2015, and reported that 9,567 pumpkins were displayed. Meanwhile, a new group of organizers formed the Monadnock Pumpkin Festival, held in the town of Swanzey adjacent to Keene on the same weekend, at which an estimated 5,500 pumpkins were displayed.
Yearly pumpkin count
- 1991 - Harvest Festival - 600
- 1992 - 1st World Record - 1,628
- 1993 - 2nd World Record - 4,817
- 1994 - 3rd World Record - 10,540
- 1995 - "Rainy Pumpkin Festival" - 9,812
- 1996 - 4th World Record - 13,044
- 1997 - 5th World Record - 13,432
- 1998 - 6th World Record - 17,693
- 1999 - Pumpkin Festival - 16,349
- 2000 - 7th World Record - 23,727
- 2001 - Pumpkin Festival - 22,633
- 2002 - "Second Rainy Pumpkin Festival" - 18,882
- 2003 - 8th World Record - 28,952
- 2004 - Pumpkin Festival - 27,584
- 2005 - "Year of the Flood" Pumpkin Festival - 22,157
- 2006 - Pumpkin Festival - 24,682
- 2007 - Pumpkin Festival - 25,644
- 2008 - Pumpkin Festival - 22,568
- 2009 - Pumpkin Festival - 29,762
- 2010 - 20th Annual Pumpkin Festival - 22,943
- 2011 - Pumpkin Festival, "Let it Shine!" - 16,186
- 2012 - Pumpkin Festival - 29,381
- 2013 - 9th World Record - 30,581
- 2014 - Pumpkin Festival - 21,912
- 2015 - 25th Pumpkin Festival (Laconia Pumpkin Fest) - 9,567
- Barnesville Pumpkin Festival
- Circleville Pumpkin Show
- Pumpkin queen
- Virginia Pumpkin Festival
- Associated Press (3 April 2015). "Keene City Council rejects pumpkin fest permit". Concord Monitor. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
- Sexton, Adam (April 24, 2015). "It's official: Laconia will host this year's pumpkin festival". WMUR-TV. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
- Paula Tracy; Kristen Carosa (October 25, 2015). "First Laconia Pumpkin Fest does not break Keene's world record". WMUR.com. WMUR-TV. Retrieved October 25, 2015.
- Guinness World Records entry for jack-o'-lanterns (Note: as of October 22, 2006, this link was broken and all reasonable searches failed to find it.)
- "Happy Halloween!!". Guinness World Records. October 31, 2007. Retrieved October 18, 2009.
- Alyssa Dandrea (October 20, 2013). "Smiles, pumpkins abound as Keene breaks jack-o'-lantern record". The Keene Sentinel. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
- "NOPE: Recount ends shy of world record". The Keene Sentinel. Retrieved October 23, 2009.
- "Keene Pumpkin Festival 2012". Pumpkinfestival2011.org. 2012-10-20. Retrieved 2012-10-25.
- Pierce, Meghan (October 24, 2015). "Monadnock Pumpkin Festival continues local tradition". New Hampshire Sunday News. Retrieved October 26, 2015.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Keene Pumpkin Fest.|
- Official website
- Keene Pumpkin Festival at The Keene Sentinel
- Photo Gallery of 2014 Pumpkin Festival