Pumpkin Fest (New Hampshire)
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The Let it Shine! Pumpkin Festival (formerly the Keene Pumpkin Festival, also known 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, the Keene City Council rejected the festival's annual permit for the following year. It was later announced that Laconia in Belknap County, New Hampshire, would be the site of the 2015 festival.
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 Pumpkin Fest 2014 large parties held in the Winchester Street area, involving Keene State College students and visitors from several other colleges in the area, led to a series of riots. Large crowds surged in the streets and began throwing beer bottles and pumpkins. Police in riot gear responded to the off-campus neighborhoods. After dark, rioting became more intense with fires, flipped cars, and a general atmosphere of mayhem. Police from Massachusetts aided in quelling crowds. At one point, a helicopter flew over the off-campus neighborhoods of Keene telling partiers to go inside. It received national media attention, such as on CNN.
On April 2, 2015, the Keene City Council voted 13-1 to reject the permit for the annual Pumpkin Festival. After the council's rejection, Charlie St. Clair of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association contacted Pumpkin Fest organizers Let it Shine!, and it was later announced that the annual festival would be held in Laconia on October 24, 2015.
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) - TBD
- 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.
- 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.
- Students Clean up After Mayhem Near Pumpkin Fest
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Keene Pumpkin Fest.|
- Official website
- Keene Pumpkin Festival at The Keene Sentinel
- Photo Gallery of 2014 Pumpkin Festival