Information for Students, Teachers & Parents

We are excited by our heart shaped logo and the message “Keene Pumpkin Festival in the heART of downtown Keene, NH!” This is event is the ideal opportunity for children to create and share their own art with the community. It is a chance for kids to shine. And with 5,000 individual creations, it is a huge visual art exhibit! When the jack-o’-lanterns are lit with the participation of all who attend, the glow of thousands of twinkling orange faces is magical.

Answers to questions about “Keene Pumpkin Festival 2018 in the HeART of Downtown Keene, NH”

Who: Let it Shine, SAU 29, SAU 93 and the City of Keene, plus dozens of sponsors, donors and volunteers are working together. The schools officially included in carving and hosting are:

Our festival this year will again focus on the local school children, and, in addition to SAU 29 schools (Keene, Westmoreland, Chesterfield, Marlborough, Harrisville, Nelson, Marlow), will include SAU 93 (Swanzey, Gilsum, Troy).

Keene schools include: Fuller, Franklin, Symonds, Wheelock, Surry Charter, Waldorf and St. Joe’s, Keene Middle School

These pumpkins are accounted for and students don’t need to register or log in with Let it Shine. Further instructions will come from your school’s administration.

*Carvers from other schools may sign up to participate. Learn more here. 

What: Keene Pumpkin Festival in the HeART of Downtown Keene, NH, a smaller version of the pumpkin festival held in Keene for 24 years

When: Sunday, October 28, 2018 from 1-7pm

Where: Central Square in Downtown Keene, NH

Why: Because our pumpkin festival is a wonderful tradition and we are rekindling this beautiful part of our children’s lives

pf2010_1030899(2)How will the pumpkins be carved?
During the school week of October 22-26, each school will receive free pumpkins from Let it Shine for students to carve. Schools and PTAs will develop their own carving programs. The jack-o’-lanterns will be delivered to Central Square Sunday morning. This will require lots of help and cooperation!

How Much: Free for children, families, and everyone thanks to the generosity of sponsors, donors and volunteers.

How will each school’s jack-o’-lanterns be transported downtown on Sunday?
Stay tuned…. The plan will be announced right before the fest. For 24 years, the schools, PTAs and families found innovative ways to transport the orange art and we thank everyone who helps in advance.

Should each jack-o’-lantern have a candle?
Yes! Please try to include a candle that will burn for at least two hours. A three-hour votive is ideal. Let it Shine has some spare candles but not enough for all the pumpkins. Thank you for including your own candle!

What happens to the pumpkins after the festival?
Every year, carvers have been encouraged to take their masterpieces home after Pumpkin Festival. This year, we are REALLY encouraging families to do this. Halloween is only three days after the fest so your jack-o’-lantern could be part of the Halloween fun. Every pumpkin that goes home with its carver to shine another day is one less for the cleanup crew. Let it Shine is putting out a call to farmers who could use the pumpkins for livestock feed. Zero waste is a Pumpkin Festival goal. Please contact us if you are interested.

Why School Children?

The schools and school children have always been at the heart of Keene Pumpkin Festival. When we (the board of directors and event team) think of the festival, we think of kids’ smiles, their joy, their sense of wonder as they explore the festival. The heart of the festival is children.

Providing seeds for kids to plant and learn about growing their own pumpkin was a foundation of the festival program and will be in the future, kicking off in the spring, anticipating the harvest six months ahead.

In 2017, the most important thing about getting City officials’ permission to rekindle Keene Pumpkin Festival was to guarantee that the number of pumpkins on display would be limited to the space available on Central Square. The number of kids in SAU29 matched well with the limit of 5,000 jack-o’-lanterns, with a safe margin. In 2018, we are able to add schools from the area, still respecting the cap of 5,000.

What other activities are planned?
ALL ARE WELCOME and encouraged to attend in costume in the spirit of the day.

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.

Live Entertainment on the Bandstand throughout the festival 1-7pm.

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 Bowling returns! Hay Bales, sugar pumpkins, real bowling pins. As good as it gets.

Pumpkin Games including Corn Hole and many other innovative FREE games. We are putting the “active” in activities!

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 and enjoy Downtown.

Downtown Association Trick-or-Treat. Participating Downtown establishments are hosting traditional trick-or-treat two days before Halloween! 2-3:30pm. Kids will want to come in costume to the festival, join the parade and check out beautiful Downtown Keene’s shops and restaurants hosting trick-or-treat.

Cartoons at The Colonial are also planned during the festival.