The city of Keene, NH began the pumpkin festival tradition in October of 1991 as a way to attract visitors to the historic downtown Main Street, states the official Pumpkin Festival website. The festival was a huge success, topping the Guinness Book of World Records eight times, with a peak reccord of 28,952 carved pumpkins in 2003 and 29,762 in 2009. The festival brings spectators from around the world to celebrate one of the most coveted New England small town traditions. However, due to financial reasons, the 2010 pumpkin festival may be the last.
Set in the historic town of Keene, NH, the pumpkin festival is located on downtown Main Street. Shadowed by Keene State College, visitors will get a feel of small town college life, excellent local restaurants and shops and plenty of friendly locals.
According to the official Keene Pumpkin Festival website, the festival will last from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday October 16.
Having gone to pumpkin fest six times, one huge factor always remains constant. Parking is very limited, moderately priced and is often located far from the festival. However, many local businesses within walking distance offer free parking, or parking for under $10. Although it does take some looking around before free parking spots are noticed. However, it is important to note that parking at the Keene State College and in some businesses parking lots that do not allow free parking for the festival, could result in a parking ticket or towing.
Should you bring the kids?
If you have kids, they will appreciate the variety of tasty treats, kid geared activities, local candy shops and of course, the variety of carved pumpkins. During the early and afternoon hours, the streets are full of parents with young children. However, many parents leave before the official lighting ceremony, where all the pumpkins are lit up in a very New England fall tradition. If your children can stay awake later, it is worth staying for the evening hours of the festival. I would caution about bringing kids to the peak hours of the festival from around 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. because of the heavy foot traffic. Kids are welcomed to the festival; however, dogs and other animals are not.
Are cars allowed on Main Street?
Cars are not allowed on Main Street, therefore, be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes and plenty of drinks.
Is the local food expensive and who is it supporting?
Keene is filled with local eateries owned by local businessmen and women. Food prices are generally stable for the festival, with plenty of inexpensive meals and the occasional free sample. Local non-profit organizations can be found on Main Street selling anything from local hot apple cider to chili-cheese dogs, which support their non-profit. For beer lovers, Keene features its own microbrewery, the Elm City Brewing Company, which features light to heavy beers and ales for all tastes.
How big is the festival and is it worth attending?
Because the city of Keene is looking at making this the last official pumpkin festival ever, it would be a great opportunity to come this year. No matter your age, the festival has something for everyone and is one of the best New England fall festivals. You can bring your own carved pumpkin, or purchase one on Main Street to contribute to the festival. People from across the United States, and the world venture to this festival because of its affordability, size and atmosphere.
I want to go, but is there more information I could get?
The official Keene Pumpkin Festival website can be found by clicking here.