Prepping for Pumpkins

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Students from Holy Trinity School at the prospect of watching their pumpkins grow after planting seeds during the 2017 Pumpkin Fest kickoff event at Bank of NH’s parking lot Thursday morning. (Karen Bobotas/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

This year’s Pumpkin Festival will be two days, will feature zombie walk


LACONIA — Out of small seeds, big dreams grow.

Holy Trinity School students Grace Mairano and Carter Lloyd were each given a cup of moist soil and a couple of pumpkin seeds Thursday at the kickoff for this year's New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 14, in Laconia.

They poked in the seeds and envisioned a mighty pumpkin. Mairano, 9, said she will carve “a silly face with a tongue.” Lloyd, 7, plans “a scary face with teeth.”

About 100 students listened to Mayor Ed Engler and Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce President Karmen Gifford describe how the event will be bigger and better than the two previous events held in the city.

Soil and seeds were given to these youngsters and will be given to hundreds of other students across the city in the run-up to the annual event, which will also include a festival preview from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 13, with vendors, pumpkin carving and a zombie walk, Gifford told the crowd.

The zombie walk got “Oohs, and ahs,” from some of the kids, and questions from others.

What's a zombie? What does that mean?”

Gifford concluded her remarks with a suggestion for the young people. Don't forget to water your seeds!” 

Jeff Mills, general manager of Moulton Farm in Meredith, which donated the soil and seeds, suggests planting seedlings outside only after the threat of frost has eased.

What we tell people is that we can get frost all the way until May 31,” he said.

Gifford said this year's event will have a larger footprint and more of a street festival feel. She expects it to draw as many as 30,000 people to an area along Main Street, Pleasant Street, Veterans Square and the Bank of New Hampshire.

The centerpiece will be a 34-foot scaffolding tower holding 1,000 pumpkins. There will also be amusement rides, a monster fun house, live entertainment and a beer garden.

The mayor said the festival is made possible through many hours of volunteer work.

Our community has taken ownership of the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival and takes great, great pride in it,” Engler said. “After just two short years of putting on this event, you don't have to be paying very close attention to realize how important this event has become to people of all ages in Laconia and throughout the Lakes Region.”

Adam Hirshan, publisher of The Laconia Daily Sun, which produces the festival guide, said the event and the children present are young but growing fast.

The future is very bright,” he said.

Laconia began hosting the pumpkin festival in 2015.

It used to be held in Keene, but city leaders there discontinued the event after riots broke out among partying college students outside the festival grounds during the 2014 event.

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Karmen Gifford and Jay Bolduc from the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce welcome city officials, Laconia elementary students and guests to the official kickoff event for the 2017 Pumpkin Fest on Thursday morning. (Karen Bobotas/for The Laconia Daily Sun)