With the flux of customers from Pumpkin Fest gone, local Main St. business owners remain excited for next year’s 25th annual Pumpkin Fest. Even though this year’s Pumpkin Fest attracted national negative publicity, local business owners feel that the media missed the real Pumpkin Fest.

David Walsh / News Editor

David Walsh / News Editor

Safely removed from the riots that occurred on Oct. 18, Main St. bustled with thousands of individuals drawn to the family-friendly festival. The main attractions included the 21,912 carved pumpkins (according to the official Guinness World Record Attempt count) that lined Main St.

“Pumpkin Fest is not only an event, but it is a much needed business boost for the local Keene economy. With thousands walking up and down Main St. it is safe to say that Pumpkin Fest is the busiest day of the year for all Main St. businesses,” Ben Fournier said, owner of Scores Sports Bar & Grille located off of Main St.

“It was the best Pumpkin Fest we have had in our eight years. It was a pretty smooth night; we had lots of Keene State alumni here, it was so nice to see some old faces,” Lab’n Lager owner Doni Ash stated. Ash is a KSC alumnus who has been working in the restaurant business for 15 years and shared that sales on Pumpkin Fest double the next-best day in the business year.

“Being a Keene State College kid once myself, I used to invite six, seven, eight of my friends to come visit while I lived in Carle [Hall],” Ash recalled,  “The RAs wouldn’t say anything. But now after the events that occurred, Keene State needs to regulate how many guests students have more strictly.” Ash is not the only Main St. business owner who said that changes to protocol will improve future Pumpkin Fests.

Fournier said, “I don’t ever want to think of Pumpkin Fest getting canceled, especially with next year being the twenty-fifth anniversary. We just need to work closer with the students to prevent riotous actions. The college can be a huge role in Pumpkin Fest only if we come together as a community.”

His newly-established business has been in operation since September of 2013, which makes this Pumpkin Fest his second in operation. Fournier said, “This year, from an owner’s perspective, it went very smoothly. It was very busy, but we felt prepared and there wasn’t a single disturbance.”

Scores neighboring business, Local Burger, had a similar Pumpkin Fest experience. Local Burger manager Michael Collins added, “We sold eight-hundred burgers on Pumpkin Fest. During the day it was extremely busy; mostly families. As work continued throughout the night we got more college kids but there was no trouble at all, it all went great.”

Local Burger relies on three chefs working side by side to cook all their burgers for Pumpkin Fest. “I really hope these riots don’t affect the future of Pumpkin Fest, it’s not only important for downtown business, but for our non-profits as well as the community as a whole,” Collins commented.

“Those that were downtown really didn’t know what was happening because it wasn’t a Pumpkin Fest riot, it was something that happened at the college and not at the festival,” Dorrie O’Meara stated. O’Meara is the owner of The Pour House, Pedraza’s Mexican Restaurant, as well as over 100 local Keene apartments.

“We spend a lot of money making Keene a beautiful place, but what’s the point if we can’t keep it safe?” O’Meara stated. She also believes  that the Keene City Council should hire more police in Keene instead of outsourcing to officers that don’t know the area. Ash is also calling on the Keene Police Department, “The police should enforce ticketing illegal parking during Pumpkin Fest to keep the number of college students down.”

Ash, Fournier, Collins and O’Meara all shared that they are excited to greet next year’s Pumpkin Fest attendees, but they all agree some things need to be changed for a better Pumpkin Fest. O’Meara suggested, “I think Keene State College should host and pay for the 25th annual Pumpkin Fest.”


Samuel Douglass can be contacted at sdouglass@keene-equinox.com

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