The celebrated Keene Pumpkin Festival starts Friday, October 19, with store windows along Main Street displaying pumpkins carved by pumpkin carving artists. The main day is Saturday, October 20. The Saturday festivities start at 8:30AM with the Great Pumpkin Mile Race and wind down after the 8PM announcement of the pumpkin count. In between those times, Main Street will be decorated with thousands of pumpkins carved into everything imaginable. This year Keene is challenging Highwood, Illinois to see which town can display the most lit gourds; they are hoping to go over 32,000. So don’t go empty-handed! Last year over 16,000 pumpkins were contributed by visitors from 34 states – from as far away as California, Washington, and Florida – and from eight foreign countries, as near as Canada and as distant as China and Australia.
The revived Pumpkin Festival is a great community affair, with 42 nonprofits offering food in the Food Court and around the downtown area. Everything from fried pickles and chicken wings to pizza, burgers, and of course, pumpkin woopie pies will be available. Main Street will be closed to traffic. There will be live music and great crafts for sale from Noon to 8:30. If you’re truly public-spirited stay around for the Pumpkin Dump Derby cleanup at 8:45PM. For more information about this year’s Keene Pumpkin Festival, see the Festival’s website.
UPDATE: HGTV filmed Pumpkin Wars about the Keene-Highwood rivalry and their 2012 pumpkin festivals; the video of the show is available on their website. According to The Keene Sentinel 29,381 lit pumpkins were on display on Saturday night; unfortunately not a new record, but Keene did beat Highwood Illinois, according to the Union Leader. Next year’s Pumpkin Festival will be on October 19th. Check out the Festival’s website for updates as they become available.