This past October 29th, children, their pumpkin creations, and their families returned to downtown Keene to celebrate the fall, our community and the return of the Keene Pumpkin Festival. We have never felt such community spirit. In spite of the drizzle, children—dressed up in Halloween costumes with colorful umbrellas overhead—walked around Central Square full of thousands of carved pumpkins. The energy was palpable! The families were there because they remembered the Keene Pumpkin Festival experience and they wanted to have it again, even in the rain. It was heartwarming. It was exhilarating. It was all we could have hoped for.
We kept the Festival small, a request from our City, by inviting Keene school children to fill Central Square with their carved orange masterpieces. Pumpkin Festival encourages children to see how they can turn their jack-o’-lanterns into works of art to display for their community.
We need your support to bring this free community tradition back to downtown Keene in 2018. The event is planned for Sunday, October 28. There will be games for the children, music, and, of course, the stars of the show, the pumpkins.
Help us bring the magic, community spirit and thousands of flickering orange gourds back to downtown Keene by making a contribution to the Festival or volunteering to help make it happen.
Keene Pumpkin Festival’s home is in downtown Keene. Help us keep the Festival’s light shining. GIVE HERE.
Relive the magic: Photographs of 2017’s beautiful festival by Shaundi Rider
Programming for 2018 is in the works and will be announced as we get closer to October. But here’s what happened last year and we expect this year to be very similar! Download 2017 Schedule
Children’s Costume Parade/Stroll from West Street around Central Square one and one-half times. Gather in front of the Parrish Shoe Sign on West Street at 1:15pm. Disperses in front of the free kids’ games near Roxbury Street.
Fall portraits. Professional photographer Debbie Danielle is offering posed portraits, providing digital files for free to folks who get their pictures taken at the Fest.
Live Entertainment on the Bandstand throughout the festival 1-7pm. Musicians and schedule TBA.
Dance Performances in the street in front of Pedraza’s including a special appearance by NHDI with the Pumpkin Festival anthem, “This Little Light of Mine, I’m Gonna Let it Shine.”
Pumpkin Games including Corn Hole and many other innovative FREE games. We are putting the “active” in activities!
Pumpkin Bowling returns! Managed by Nancy Hickox who ran Pumpkin Bowling from 2011-2104. Hay Bales, sugar pumpkins, real bowling pins. This is as good as it gets.
The primary activity at Keene Pumpkin Festival is the spectacular display of jack-o’-lanterns, as always! But after families find their pumpkins and admire all the others, we encourage you to linger Downtown. Enjoy the fine restaurants and explore the space—a quintessential New England Downtown in autumn.
Downtown Association Trick-or-Treat. Participating Downtown establishments host traditional trick-or-treat a few days before Halloween! 2-3:30pm. Kids come in costume to the festival, join the parade and check out beautiful Downtown Keene’s shops and restaurants hosting trick-or-treat.
Other Pumpkin Festivals to Check Out
Milford, NH: Milford Pumpkin Festival
Pumpkin Festival at the junction of art, business and recreation
Laconia, August 14, 2015. Standing at the junction of art, business and recreation, key members of the Pumpkin Festival 2015 team unveiled a work of art created to support the festival.
“Business support of the pumpkin festival event promotes the arts and recreation in our state,” said Ruth Sterling. “Artist Lawrence Frates has used his talent to help. This is what Pumpkin Festival is all about. Everyone letting their own lights shine.”
Let it Shine, the non-profit producers of the fest, has demonstrated for four years that when a region’s schools, businesses, neighborhoods, families and individuals sit down to carve their pumpkins, one community becomes a showplace for the world.