To know me is to know my slight obsession with the Keene Pumpkin Festival. It's an annual event set in the storybook town of Keene, New Hampshire, with many of the typical, quaint New England fall festival activities like a Halloween costume parade, craft fair, storytelling at the local library and live music in the town's gazebo.
But what sets this festival apart from the rest is Keene's effort to hold down the world record for most jack-o-lanterns lit in one place, at one time every year. That's right: the most glowing pumpkins on the whole planet are in this town's square.
I love the small town drama behind the world record goal and the festival's history, how in 2012 the town lost the record to Boston, but in 2013 rallied together and reclaimed the title with a whopping 30,581 jack-o-lanterns, the folks from Guinness on hand to make it official. It's like an episode of Gilmore Girls come to life.
The owner of the event company that organizes the festival, Ruth Sterling, recapped the trials and tribulations of chasing the record again in a first-hand account of last year's event. My favorite quote is about her prepping for the event: "In February, May, June, July (you get it) I would say to A-team participants, 'OK, it's 8pm Saturday, October 19. Mayor Lane just announced that we won. How did we get there? What could possibly stop us?' Every day mother nature shared challenging weather like torrential rain, I would set the expectation: 'How do we win in this? Because we will win and this can't stop us.' That focus was a key success factor."
This year, the festivities take place on Saturday, October 18th from noon to 8:30pm, with a complete schedule of activities available here. The signature, towering inferno of jack-o-lanterns (above) will be on display again, too.
I'll leave you with a few shots of previous years from photographer Mickey Pullen. Whether Keene succeeds in holding down the title remains to be seen, but either way the sight of tens of thousands of glowing jack-o-lanterns is something to behold.
Have a glorious weekend!