Warm weather helps draw big crowds to 3rd Monadnock Pumpkin Festival

By MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent
October 22. 2017 10:33PM
Keene State College students Julia Papotto, 19, and Nicole Johnson, 19, have fun carving pumpkins at the third annual Monadnock Pumpkin Festival in Swanzey on Saturday. (Meghan Pierce/Union Leader Correspondent)

SWANZEY — Benefiting from 70 degree weather, the third annual Monadnock Pumpkin Festival at the Cheshire Fairgrounds on Saturday saw its biggest turnout yet.

“The biggest problem anyone is having is finding shade,” said organizer and festival founder Jennifer Matthews.

The festival has attracted between 5,000 and 6,000 people in the past. On Saturday afternoon, Matthews said it would be a few days before she would know this year’s attendance, but it’s definitely up.

“I’m hearing from all the vendors that they are all busier that they were before. I’m hearing from the police and fire that have been here each year that there are way more people this year, but still very well behaved,” Matthews said.

Along with the weather, some last-minute partnerships helped boost attendance, Matthews said.

When Matthews reached out to the Halloween store Spirit Halloween to add to the Fright Fest: Haunted Hayride, the store said it wanted to sponsor the activity.

“The Keene and Concord stores partnered with us for a pop-up Fright Fest,” she said. “They sent over a ton of stuff and that kicked it up 10 notches.”

The Springfield Vermont Steampunk Festival also partnered with the Monadnock Pumpkin Festival this year by organizing the live music lineup, which had so far Saturday been very popular, Matthews said.

The Steampunk Festival also hosted a Steampunk meetup for its followers at the festival, drawing Steampunk fans from across the state as well as Massachusetts and Vermont.

The carving station, which offered free pumpkin carving, was also a big success.

“What’s a pumpkin festival without carving pumpkins? We couldn’t be happier,” Matthews said.

Matthews organized the Monadnock Pumpkin Festival after the city of Keene denied the 25th annual Keene Pumpkin festival its permit in 2015.

The Keene Pumpkin Festival is returning to neighboring Keene on Sunday, Oct. 29, in a much smaller community-focused event.


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