I love traditions. This year marked the fifth year I traveled to New Hampshire for the Pumpkin Festival in Keene. I have an aunt who lives near Keene and it is a wonderful excuse to visit family and enjoy a local, fall festival. In years past, the weather has been a bit harsh, with cold northerly winds and icy rain. This year would prove to be very different.
On Saturday, I drove north thinking that I had missed most of the fall “color.” I love seeing the hills in riotous mix of red, orange and gold. This year, there wasn’t much red, but the hills were still impressive with their beautiful burnished golden tones. Many times I turned a corner and said, “wow” at the beautiful hills.
The day was glorious, a true Indian summer day with temperatures in the 70’s. I brought a jacket out of habit, though it was unnecessary in the glorious weather. The streets were packed with people enjoying the festival, marveling at the carved pumpkins, and the vendors eager to sell their goods. There was a haunted church, a Ferris wheel, and a skate boarding area for the kids.
I love walking around and seeing the creatively carved pumpkins. I have a limited imagination for carving and my pumpkin always looks like a kindergartner carved it. And yet, I love the entire gooey, messy process of cleaning out the pumpkin, scooping out the pumpkin seeds and guts, and then laughing as I am unable to carve anything truly artistic. As we walked around this year, my aunt said, “Look, Ramona, those aren’t any better than ours.” I peered at the pumpkins to see a small sign that said, “Mrs. X’s Kindergarten class.” I laughed as I read the confirmation of my assessment of my pumpkin carving skills.
The best part about the Pumpkin Festival is waiting for dusk when all the pumpkins are lit. This year, they were trying to break the world record. They wanted to have 32,000 carved pumpkins lit at one time. They had a little over 29,000 and though they didn’t break the record, it was a glorious sight to see. I saw one of the Property Brothers from HGTV there as they were doing a show on Keene vs. a small town in Illinois that also has a pumpkin fest and currently holds the world record. I’m not quite sure what he was doing there, but I moved on to my favorite sight. I love the view of the large scaffolding at the square with the large pumpkin on top lit up with hundreds of pumpkins below. It is a truly wondrous thing to see.
If there are any fall festivals in your area, I hope you are able to visit and take part in them. I find them a great way to welcome in a beautiful season.
© Ramona Flightner