Guts and glory for Pumpkin Fest 2013


“Green is the new orange,” according to Meghan Pierce of the Union Leader, of this year’s annual Pumpkin Fest taking place on October 19.

Organizations within Keene State College such as R.O.C.K.S. [Recyclying On Campus at Keene State] and the fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon otherwise known as TKE, are collaborating with members of the community in an effort to make the Keene Pumpkin Festival a zero waste event by 2017.

C S Wurzberger of The Green Up Girl company has decided to team up with TKE. The Green Up Girl is a company that specializes in planning and promoting green events.  Wurzberger referred to TKE as the clean up team, and herself as the green team. They are working together towards reducing waste at Pumpkin Fest one step at a time.

Michelle Lefebvre / Equinox Staff

Michelle Lefebvre / Equinox Staff

According to Wurzberger, Pumpkin Fest brings in more than 70,000 attendees to the community. She also added that events are some of the biggest waste producers in the world. “We’ve set up first with the goal to reduce waste by thirty-five percent this year. But with a long range goal of being a zero waste event by 2017,” Wurzberger said. She continued, “Now what we’re doing is we’re kind of melding together the green team and the clean team, to not only manage, but sort the trash and make sure recycling is going to happen.”

Prior to the actual Pumpkin Fest is an annual pumpkin carving session referred to as Pumpkin Lobotomy.  According to Recycling Coordinator Heather Greenwood, Pumpkin Lobotomy is an event where the college buys roughly 2,000 pumpkins to carve out on the quad. It is essentially the college’s contribution to the festival.

Greenwood is involved with R.O.C.K.S., the organization that plays a vital role in the pumpkin lobotomy session. The R.O.C.K.S. team collects the pumpkin guts during the event. They have a number of buckets set up around campus to collect the guts in. They also have larger compost toters to dump the buckets into and they monitor the general recycling of the event.

“We’ll have a poster up to kind of educate people about why we even collect it. So just our presence I think and what we’re doing there kind of demonstrates the colleges commitment to doing the right thing and making those extra steps,” Greenwood said.

In previous years, the work that R.O.C.K.S. does has been pretty successful and they have the numbers to show it. “Last year we had about 120 leftover pumpkins that got composted. Then we composted over 800 pounds of just guts. So together the estimated total is about 1775 pounds of pumpkin and pumpkin guts that we composted just at that one event,” Greenwood said.

KSC senior and director of public relations for TKE,  Jay Laford, said they are coordinating much of the day with on-site efforts. This will be the fraternity’s third year participating in the cleaning/greening up of this event.

“We’re going to be walking around getting litter off of the streets. We’re also going to be stationed in front of the trash cans, in front of the recycling cans, making sure people aren’t throwing away recyclable trash,” Laford said.

As the only student organization teaming up with Wurzberger so far, TKE takes pride in the fact that they are able to give back to the community of Keene. “It’s something TKE is really happy to be working with. The population of Keene probably triples during Pumpkin Fest alone. It’s kind of a unique problem that thankfully we’re able to help with,” Laford said.

One of the most important concerns among Greenwood, Wurzberger and Laford alike is simply to educate the public and enforce them to properly recycle what can and needs to be recycled. According to Wurzberger, eight out of every ten water bottles ends up in a landfill instead of being recycled.

With only 20 percent of water bottles ending up being recycled, that starts to add up to the polluting of Earth.

As a major event that the city of Keene is recognized for, it is important that we take steps in the direction of change for the better. Although it would be impossible to monitor every single thing that goes on during the festival, each step is worth the while. “As we come together, we just want to get this conversation started with some very soft education.  All we want to do is raise the eyebrow,” Wurzberger said.


Sabrina Lapointe can be contacted at

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