Littleton Harvest Festival unites seasons greatest hits

Specia to the Union Leader |
October 22. 2012 9:30PM

At the Gathering of the Jack O Lanterns in 2011, the artistry of pumpkin carvers illuminated the river rocks. (COURTESY)

LITTLETON — It'll be trick-or-treating, chili and pumpkins this weekend in the northern White Mountain town of Littleton, as several events combine to celebrate the season at the first Harvest Festival on Oct. 27 and 28.

Organized by the Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce, the festival includes the Littleton Police Department's Halloween Festival, trick-or-treating on Main Street, Old Home Day activities, Littleton Co-op's Great Chili Cook Off , movie night, and, back by popular demand, the eerie Gathering of the Pumpkins on the Ammonoosuc River.

The Gathering of the Pumpkins premiered last year, with local businessman Dave Harkless of Littleton Bike & Fitness spearheading the effort that resulted in about 300 jack o' lanterns gracing the river rocks behind the bike shop and on the pedestrian covered bridge.

Harkless said planning started earlier this year, with more people involved. This has allowed the event to add the Haunted Riverwalk to supplement the “chilling” gazebo music of a ghoulish pipe organ along the walking path. The path crosses over the covered bridge and circles up river in front Riverglen Senior Housing and Senior Center, and also goes down river to the older pedestrian suspension bridge. New this year, too, is a horse-drawn hayride.

“We're anticipating 500 jack o'lanterns,” said Chad Stearns, executive director of the Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce, of the Sunday night event, which goes from dusk until 8 p.m.

Harkless, posting on the Facebook page for the gathering, said this is a grassroots event, and this year will bigger and better than last year's, thanks to the help of volunteers. Donations of carved pumpkins can be dropped off at the bike shop at 20 Cottage Street on Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

School children will be doing their bit to help with the haunting of Littleton, thanks to the Littleton Police Department. On Saturday, as part of the LPD's fifth annual Halloween Festival at the Lakeway Elementary School, children in kindergarten through grade six can participate in a pumpkin carving contest. Carving tools are provided, but kids, who must be accompanied by an adult, should have their orange gourd hollowed out already.

Those youngsters who wish to show off their artwork can leave their pumpkin with the police, who will make sure it is displayed at the river gathering.

The hauntingly good time all starts on Saturday, Oct. 27, with the LPD Halloween festival from 10 a.m. to noon, trick-or-treating along Main Street from noon to 4 p.m., Old Home Day Events at Remick Park from noon to 2 p.m., the Littleton Food Co-op Great Chili Cook Off at the Littleton Opera House from 2 to 4 p.m., and movie night at the Opera House from 6 to 8 p.m.

“We are happy to be working with the Boys & Girls Club of the North Country and the Littleton Parks Department on this new event for the children of the area,” said Stearns of the Old Home Day activities, such as a three-legged race and pie-eating contest.

Sponsors include the Littleton Food Co-op, Littleton Bike & Fitness, Bank of New Hampshire, Boys & Girls Club of the North Country, the Littleton Police Department, and Littleton Parks & Recreation.

For more information on the Gathering of the Jack O Lanterns, call 444-3437 or email For the festival, call the Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce at 444-6561, or visit


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