Jordan Cuddemi

News Editor

 

Although the previous price tag associated with cleaning up the Pumpkin Festival’s aftermath totaled over $106,000, the city of Keene will give the event another try.

From 12 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22 the Keene community and its guests will attempt to break the current Guinness World Record for the most lit pumpkins in one location, 30,128 pumpkins, which is currently held by Boston, Mass.

Although breaking the record is a huge priority, mending the destruction in the streets during and after the festival is another area of high conern.

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In this year’s attempt to curb the destruction, Pumpkin Fest’s new management team, Sterling Design and Communications has come up with the “Don’t Lose Your Head at Pumpkin Fest” campaign, the “seven saving graces” of Pumpkin Fest, and the “Face-OFF Form.”

Owner of Sterling Design and Communications and this year’s Pumpkin Festival Manager, Ruth Sterling, said her goal is for overall improvement over last year’s madness. “We have to significantly improve the trend and improve the results of last year. I have complete faith that we can do that.”

“Don’t Lose Your Head at Pumpkin Fest” is a campaign targeted at raising awareness and guiding individuals towards abiding laws, rules and regulations. Along with this campaign runs the “seven saving graces” of Pumpkin Fest which, if followed, will lead to a safer festival.

The “seven saving graces” are as follows: invite only one guest; keep a limited amount of guests indoors and require positive identification; keep the noise level down; supply a well-rounded menu if hosting a party; volunteer with cleanup after the festival; join the “Help! Don’t cancel the Keene Pumpkin Fest” Facebook group; and lastly, attend the “Face-OFF Forum,” which allows for a public discussion between the “18 to 25 task team,” community members, authority figures and police officers.

Sterling said the 18 to 25 task team, a team compiled of KSC students, met with the Keene Police Dept. Liason Jon Stewert and other authority figures and discussed how to create a safer pumpkin festival.

“We got incredibly high quality feedback,” Sterling said. “The exchange between authority figure, cop, parent, and young people was incredible.”

As a result of the forum, members came up with a few suggestions to promote a safer festival. Promoting personal responsibility and peer responsibility were two key suggestions. “Have a wing man watch out for you so you are never alone,” Sterling said. In addition, having a designated “drive-way-er” in order to regulate noise was another suggestion. Sterling said the 18 to 25 task team suggested having a person stand in the driveway to allow the party guests inside to know if the noise level was exceeding acceptable standards. “The noise triggers the arrests,” said Sterling. “And then if you have done one of the ‘seven deadly sins’ you would have gotten arrested.”

Part of Sterling’s attempt to reduce the expensive aftermath of the festival was pointing out the seven main causes of destruction.

The “seven deadly sins” include: thou shall not drink underage; thou shall not assault thy neighbor; thou shall not disturb the peace; thou shall not urinate in public; thou shall not smash pumpkins; thou shall not drive drunk; and thou shall not have open containers of alcohol in public.

Paula Raymond, public relations and development coordinator for the festival said, “We are not asking anyone to not have fun or to be a saint. We are just saying to stop short of getting arrested or ending up in the hospital.”

On Thursday, Oct. 20 and Friday, Oct. 21, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Raymond will host the “Don’t Lose Your Head at Pumpkin Fest” campaign in the L.P. Young Student Center at Keene State College. Raymond will ask students to pledge  to be aware of their behavior on Pumpkin Fest and to obey rules and regulations.

In exchange, Raymond said students will receive an orange wristband which says, “I helped save the Keene Pumpkin Festival.”

“We would like students to pledge that they will not exhibit any excessive behaviors that will either land them in jail, in the emergency room, or anger their neighbors,” Raymond said.

Although KSC students are not the root of any problems associated with the hectic aftermath of Pumpkin Fest, Sterling said KSC students can lead the way out of the problems. “The enthusiasm for the Pumpkin Fest is enough to save the day,” Sterling said.

Although the expensive cleanup was almost enough to end the festival, this year’s guests will notice a few changes to the forum.

Instead of having the food court lined down Main St., the 42 non-profit food vendors will be set up on Gilbo Ave., behind Margarita’s Restaurant.

The existing craft fair that hosts an array of merchandise will be cultivated as half of the vendors this year are new to the festival.

An addition to this year’s festival is “pumpkin bowling.”

Taking place perpendicular across West St. will be bowling lanes lined by hay bales. Sterling said she purchased regulation 10-pin bowling pins from Ebay and over 300 “smooth hard cooking pumpkins” to act as bowling balls. “The game is designed for people to throw a pumpkin and not get in trouble.” Sterling said the cooking pumpkins that break will be recycled into jack o’lanterns.

On behalf of the 22 annual festival, Sterling said, “It is absolutely mandatory that we turn the tide and show improvement and establish good faith with citizens and the leadership of Keene. If we can just make sure that the energy stays positive we are golden.”

 

Jordan Cuddemi can be contacted at jcuddemi@keene-equinox.com.

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