As a recent graduate of Keene State College, I have about four years experience in the Keene Pumpkin Fest and related activities. Three years in a row I participated in the campus-wide Pumpkin Lobotomy, in which KSC supplies the campus with hundreds of pumpkins on the quad for students to carve and donate to the town. I have partaken in the annual Smashing of the Pumpkins, a highly beloved and illegal tradition once the festival is finished.
I highly enjoyed sharing this experience with my new SIT classmates, but I was disappointed to see how much smaller the Pumpkin Fest has grown over the years. Keene held the Guinness World Record for largest number of lit pumpkins in 2003 with 28,952 pumpkins. In 2006 Boston beat this record by almost two-thousand. Since then the Keene Pumpkin Festival has generated an amount of tourists too large for the town to sustain. Because of this, the town has spent too much money on the festival, which has become too big for its own good.
As a result, Keene had to cut back of this year's festival, resulting in less attractions and vendors.
Apparently this has not generated a smaller crowd, with this years pumpkin count reaching 22,943 pumpkins.
(Photo courtesy of Becky Spachek)