Big day arrives: Pumpkin Festival is here!

  • Published in Local News

10 13 GHS pumpkin carve 1 Karen B

Hunter Bell adds teeth to her creation during yesterday afternoon’s pumpkin-carving at Gilford Middle School, which readied approximately 350 jack-o’-lanterns for this weekend’s Pumpkinfest in downtown Laconia. (Karen Bobotas/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

By RICK GREEN, Laconia Daily Sun

LACONIA — The 2017 New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival gets underway at 4 p.m. today with pumpkin carving, amusement rides, bands, food and more.

“There is plenty of parking in the municipal lots on Beacon Street East and West as well as on-street parking,” said organizer Karmen Gifford. “We just ask please do not block driveways and to leave room for emergency vehicles to get by or you will be towed. Handicap parking is available in each lot and behind the train station on New Salem Street.”

Unlike previous years, there will be no parking shuttle this year.

People are encouraged to bring carved pumpkins.

“Be sure to include a 4-hour votive candle or battery candle,” she said. “Jack-o'-lanterns can be placed within the festival footprint on any display and they will be counted. Carving can also be done at Hector's Restaurant or at the Official Carving Station near the Tower.”

There will be an official count of pumpkins. The record for most lit jack-o'-lanterns is 30,581, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

More than 40 vendors will be open on Friday and located in the streets throughout Main and Pleasant streets, Veterans Square and the beer garden on Beacon Street West. Local restaurants and shops will also be open.

Amusements will include a gigantic slide, fun house, kiddie motorcycle ride, bungee jump and a climbing wall.

There will also be live entertainment. DJ Jason will be in the Beer Garden.

Bands performing at the stage in Veterans Square from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. include Crescendo's Gate, Catching Arrows, Last Reach and Red Guard. There will also be a street band on Main Street from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

A zombie walk will begin at the 34-foot pumpkin tower at 6:30 p.m. Thousands of pumpkins carved by school children will be on display in the Bank of New Hampshire parking lot.

There are free municipal parking lots surrounding the festival footprints and the parking garage. Parking is also available along residential streets and at Opechee Park, Pleasant Street School and Memorial Park.

Festivities begin again Saturday with 10K and 5K runs at 9 a.m., and for the less athletic, a $5-a-plate pancake breakfast begins at 9 a.m. at Holy Trinity School. There will also be a zip line, horse-drawn hay rides and games, including Pumpkin Fest corn hole.

Leashed pets are welcome.

Events and activities – Friday and Saturday

Friday, Oct. 13, 4 to 8 p.m.
• Drop off your carved pumpkin OR carve a jack-o’-lantern at the carving station
• Food and craft vendors
• Amusement rides – gigantic slide, fun house, climbing wall, bungee jump, kiddie rides and more.
• Pumpkin Festival Beer Garden featuring Shipyard Brewery, NH Distributors and 405 Pub & Grill; entertainment by DJ Jason.
• 4-8 p.m. - Street music oon Main Street in front of Greenlaw’s
• 6-8 p.m. – Boston’s All You Got Tour on the Laconia Harley-Davidson Hideout Stage in Veterans Square.
• 6:30 p.m. – Join the Zombie Walk.
• Climb Pumpkin Eye View for a peek at the 34-foot featured Tower of jack-o’-lanterns.
​• Stroll the Streets of Pumpkins.
• School Pumpkins Display, sponsored by Bank of New Hampshire.

Saturday, Oct. 14, noon to 8 p.m.
• 9 a.m. – The Runaway Pumpkin 10K & 5K Run/Walk starts at Opechee Park.
​• 9 a.m.-noon – Pumpkin and buttermilk pancake breakfast at Holy Trinity School, $5 a plate.
• Drop off your carved pumpkin OR carve a jack-o’-lantern at the carving station.
• Food and craft vendors.
​• Pumpkin Festival Beer Garden featuring Shipyard Brewery, NH Distributors and 405 Pub & Grill; entertainment by DJ Jason; 7-10 p.m. – Axis.
​• Live music at the Laconia Harley-Davidson Hideout Stage in Veterans Square
Noon-3:30 p.m. – Pat Foley Band
4:15-8 p.m. – Stray Dog Band
• Amusement rides – gigantic slide, fun house, climbing wall, bungee jump, kiddie rides and more.

All new in 2017:
• Noon-4 p.m.
–  200-foot zip line attraction on Main Street, sponsored by Gunstock Mountain Resort and ClearChoiceMD.
– Horse-drawn hay rides around downtown on Hanover Street, sponsored by Parks & Recreation.
–  2017 Pumpkin Fest Amazing Race: Solve the clues, complete the challenges, beat the clock, win the prizes; sponsored by Opechee Inn & Spa. Located on Hanover Street. To participate, register early.
 

• Noon-5 p.m.
– PumpCANALly featuring children’s pedal tractor pulls, PumpkinFest corn hole, Monster Golf, exhibits, games and more, sponsored by Grappone Automotive.
– 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Mill Marketplace
– 2-4 p.m. – Great Pumpkin Cook-Off.
– 4:30 p.m. – Riverside Duck Derby in the Winni River, sponsored by the Belknap Mill.
​– 5 p.m. – Caring for Kids costume parade for children, adults and dogs in costumes. Gather near Bank of New Hampshire’s school pumpkin displays on Pleasant St beginning at 4:30. Stroll will begin promptly at 5 p.m. Presented by LRGHealthcare
​– 5 p.m. – Jack-o’-lantern lighting begins.
​– 7-7:15 p.m. Guinness World Record attempt.
​– 8:45 p.m. Pumpkin Dump Derby.