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Pumpkin festival to Nashua?

Union Leader Correspondent

April 07. 2015 12:18AM

NASHUA — With the Keene Pumpkin Festival left without a home, a non-profit organization in Nashua has reached out to organizers to explore the possibility of the Gate City hosting the event.

“It is a great New Hampshire tradition, and we think it should be preserved,” Paul Shea, director of Great American Downtown in Nashua, said Monday.

But the event must be thoroughly vetted to determine how it would work in Nashua, he said.

“It would take the support of the entire community,” Shea said.

Last week, the Keene City Council denied a license for a 2015 pumpkin festival, several months after the event made national headlines for rioting that broke out near and on Keene State College’s campus during the October festival.

“I’m going to keep believing in miracles,” event manager Ruth Sterling said after the license was denied. Sterling said she hopes to keep the event in Keene.

Shea said he has encouraged event organizers to contact him if they have any interest in working with Nashua to find a new home for the festival.

“It is such a good event that gathers a good crowd. It is a family-friendly experience, and it is a shame that Keene decided not to support it,” he said.

Great American Downtown currently hosts the Winter Holiday Stroll, which has a well-organized plan for large crowds, he said.

“This could be good for Nashua,” Alderman-at-Large Jim Donchess said on Monday. “We would need to put a Nashua stamp on it, of course.”

Donchess said it is worth exploring the possibility, and especially studying the size of the event and how many people it might attract.

Last year, Nashua launched its first Gate City Fall Festival, complete with a downtown parade and seasonal activities at Holman Stadium; it is intended to become an annual event.

Carolyn Mortellaro, one of the Gate City Fall Festival organizers, said Monday that the local festival is not looking to merge its event with the Keene Pumpkin Festival.

“We plan to keep our own festival as is, with the hopes of growing it, of course,” Mortellaro said.

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