LACONIA — The New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival has evolved each year since it came to Laconia, and this year’s event, taking place on Saturday, Oct. 19, will feature a tribute to adventure.
The Gunstock Outdoor Expo, located in a parking lot off of Beacon Street West and near Veterans Square, will celebrate the outdoor fun available in the Lakes Region.
Rachel Templar, marketing manager for Gunstock, said the mountain resort was invited to be part of the Pumpkin Fest by the Greater Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the yearly fall celebration.
“The chamber approached us, we want to do something new this year so we can highlight the adventure, fun part,” of life in the Lakes Region, Templar said.
Most people associate Gunstock with skiing, and for those downhill enthusiasts the expo will have a Snowcat trail groomer, available for up-close viewing. But there’s more to do at Gunstock, which is why the expo will also have “tree tents” that are part of its glam-camping program, and will have Segways on hand for people to try.
There’s no cost for any of the activities in the Outdoor Expo, including taking a spin of Gunstock’s prize wheel, which offers rewards up to free lift tickets.
Gunstock invited a few other organizations to be part of the expo. Highland Mountain Bike Park will set up a pump track for people to try, and a Boy Scout troop will set up an archery range.
The Outdoor Expo will be open from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Templar said, adding that she hopes it will inspire locals and visitors to enjoy the region’s natural amenities even as the temperature drops.
“We live in this amazing place, let’s get out and enjoy it. It’s fall, the foliage is beautiful, pumpkins, all the things,” she said. “It will be fun for people to get a chance to spin the wheel and win a prize.”
Hector’s Fine Foods and Spirits will serve food near the Outdoor Expo, and there will also be a beer tent nearby. They’re all part of an effort to shift the center of gravity of the festival slightly to the west. The focal point of the festival, the Pumpkin Tower, has moved from the intersection of Church Street and North Main to the parking lot of the Train Station. The Pumpkin Eye View viewing platform will now be found at the Pleasant Street end of Veterans Square.
However, there will still be attractions throughout downtown. Rotary Park will host the bandstand and Belknap Mill’s events. The public parking lot between Pleasant and Main streets will host a beer tent, climbing wall and bungee jump. And the Main Street end of Pleasant Street will be where amusement rides will be found. Kids’ activities will be on Canal Street, aka PumpCANALly, and there will be pumpkin bowling on Hanover Street.
Favorites from previous years, horse-drawn wagon rides, the Runaway Pumpkin road race and the Jumpin’ Jack Car Show, will return. Holy Trinity School, now located on the Sacred Heart Church campus, will again serve a pancake breakfast. And a new activity, a mobile escape room, will be located on Main Street near the parking garage.
For further details, visit nhpumpkinfestival.com.