Keene Pumpkin Festival is in jeopardy of no longer existing without the help of the student body.
The annual festival, a tradition of 24 years held in Downtown Keene, is being jeopardized for the 2015 year.
A bill was issued from the 2014 festival that became out of hand in the neighborhoods surrounding the college .
The $90,000 bill is made up of the overtime fees from the police forces and
safety services from the city, neighboring towns and even state troopers. Let it Shine, the volunteer organization that puts together the Pumpkin Festival, covered and took responsibility for $59,000 of the expenses.
This still leaves just under $32,000 to be paid.
Ruth Sterling, the festival’s organizer, said, “The volunteers and donations were given in good faith and those people are upset that we would come back to them and ask
them for more money to solve what they see as someone else’s responsibility.”
Sterling said she’s been waiting for a leader, mainly someone from the Keene State College student body or city leadership, to step up to take responsibility. She said she wants a leader to begin a fundraiser or simply donate.
“We’re all responsible when things go wrong in this community and I want to help fix it. And if we came together like that we could raise thirty-two-thousand dollars and we could show that we’re all in this together,” Sterling said. The rest of the Let it Shine board is also waiting for a leader to step up.
Sterling said, “It’s not fair,” in regard to letting the organization pay the leftover expenses. Sterling said the organization should only be responsible for what goes on in the footprint of the festival and not in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Sterling explained if the $32,000 bill is not paid, there will be no Pumpkin Fest 2015. The cancelling of that will devastate many in the Keene community.
KSC sophomore Alison Gilleran said, “The students should be responsible I guess, but not all the students were in it. So to fine everyone would be annoying.” Gilleran continued, “Next year we should not be so crazy and try and help that.” Another sophomore at KSC, Seanna Flynn, said the people who were involved with the riots should definitely be the ones to help pay for the bill. “It’s definitely an opportunity to learn, so we should all learn from it and do whatever it takes to help out in the town next year and be a good part of it — to give ourselves a good name back,” Flynn said.
The Pumpkin Festival is a traditional virtue to the City of Keene, as well as the students at KSC.
Sterling said there are ways to keep the next Pumpkin Festival safe and also ways to raise enough money, but only if the community steps up as a whole.
“We need to prove that we want this festival to go on,” Sterling said.
There are two Facebook pages dedicated to “saving” Pumpkin Festival. Sterling said she would be happy to have a donate button on the pages if students wanted to donate. Vice President for Student Affairs, Kemal Atkins, was contacted for a comment on the issue, but did not respond for press time.
Savanna Balkun can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org