Small Town Traditions and Keene Pumpkin Festival

Growing up in Wilton, NH, I learned about my fair share of small town traditions and I had one in particular that I sincerely disliked: Whimsical People. Every year, the town would get together and create these terrifying scarecrow things called Whimsical People. The Whimsical People would then be placed all throughout town in poses as if they were normal people doing normal people things. Cute, right?

How cute?  Nope.  Terrifying.

How cute? Nope. Terrifying.

No.

Awesome.  Let's just put something that looks like a toddler right next to a busy roadway.

Awesome. Let’s just put something that looks like a toddler right next to a busy roadway.

I never liked the Whimisical People, but I love the fact that my town had this tradition. Small town traditions are one of the things that make New Hampshire great. These traditions bring people of the entire town together to do something awesome (or terrifying, if it is Wilton, NH).

So many pumpkins!

So many pumpkins!

Now that I live in Keene, I am still getting to know the traditions here, but I am already in love with the Keene Pumpkin Festival. If you don’t know about the Keene Pumpkin Festival because, well, maybe you’ve been living in the middle of the forest without any access to media sources or other human beings — then you are certainly missing out. Main Street and Central Square are completely transformed into gallery for carved pumpkin art – and there are enough pumpkins to fill out most of the street and all of the square. The town gets together and everyone contributes carved pumpkins.

So, this is my contribution to the festival.  It's not dorky at all.

So, this is my contribution to the festival. It’s not dorky at all.

Nope.  Not even a little bit dorky.  And, in case you were wondering, my pumpkin does, in fact, say 'Bad Wolf.'

Nope. Not even a little bit dorky. And, in case you were wondering, my pumpkin does, in fact, say ‘Bad Wolf.’

The assembled pumpkins get lit on Saturday night of the pumpkin festival and the sight is just breath taking. This year, we (I’m including myself because 1. I live here and 2. I totally carved a pumpkin) broke the world record with 30,581 pumpkins. That is a lot of pumpkins and  a lot of work put in by all of the great people that live in Keene. It’s also so much better than 30,581 Whimsical People (that thought just makes me shudder).

The Keene Young Professionals got together on the Friday before the festival to carve pumpkins.

The Keene Young Professionals got together on the Friday before the festival to carve pumpkins.

Some more of the fruits of the KYPN labors.

Some more of the fruits of the KYPN labors.

The other great thing about the tradition of the Keene Pumpkin Festival is that it is FAMOUS! HGTV came and filmed for their special ‘Pumpkin Wars’ and the pumpkin festival is a huge draw for people not from Keene to come to Keene and see how great we are.

Even aliens from outer space love Pumpkin Fest!

Even aliens from outer space love Pumpkin Fest!

I love how traditions can bring a town together and make the people living there feel closer. In Keene, we all rallied together against two common enemies: The pumpkin and that town in the midwest that thought they could beat our (it’s totally fine to include myself. I’ve been a resident of Keene for almost a whole year and that counts.) record. Well, I have news for both those common enemies (in case you forgot, the enemies are pumpkins and some town out in the midwest): You had better watch out because New Hampshire traditions will always win.

2 Responses to “Small Town Traditions and Keene Pumpkin Festival”

  1. MaryOctober 28, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

    I find Whimsical people very cute. I may be offended by your blog showing them in a negative light. Although, I can relate that sometimes they did look real and I would be frightened if I thought a toddler was going to crash with it’s walker onto Main Street from the stone wall… I did, however, find enjoyable, your references to traditions in small towns bringing residents together to work toward a common goal. Very nicely done!

  2. Sasha Bley-VromanNovember 2, 2013 at 2:21 am #

    That first Whimsical Person does fill me with horror. Over 50 years ago, in a little house in East Alstead north of Keene, I read the excellent kids’/young adult book The Enchanted Castle by the wonderful author E. Nesbit, and she had some creatures that looked just like that (as I imagined them) which came halfway to life. I was never so scared in my life, except by Hitchcock films. In fact I am still scared about them. You are right. Also right about Keene’s great pumpkins!

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