Pumpkins for School Children

It has been a longstanding tradition of the Pumpkin Festival to make free pumpkins available to area school children for carving with their classes or parents and PTAs. Schools wishing to receive pumpkins are asked to register here and we will try to match interested schools with donated pumpkins! Pumpkins for Lakes Region School Children

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Lawrence Frates’ magnificent painting, acrylic, 18″x24″, was unveiled at Bank of NH press conference August 14 with the site of the 35′ pumpkin tower and the Pumpkin Express train in the background.

Pumpkin Festival 2015 at the junction of art, business and recreation

Laconia, August 14, 2015. Standing at the junction of art, business and recreation, key members of the Pumpkin Festival 2015 team unveiled a work of art created to support the festival. Bank of NH official Mark Primeau confirmed his bank’s lead sponsorship of the event, including hosting the largest community carving center organizers have ever offered. Bank of NH’s Lindsay Cota-Robles and Tiffany Benton will also be supervising Pumpkin Bowling in the bank’s parking area, adjacent to the festival’s signature tower.

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Lakes Region Chamber Director Karmen Gifford; Pumpkin Festival event manager Ruth Sterling; Bank of NH official Mark Primeau; Laconia Fire Chief Ken Erickson; Paul Giblin, Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad; and Pat Kelly, WEMJ. Photo by Tiffany Benton.

“Business support of the pumpkin festival event promotes the arts and recreation in our state,” said Ruth Sterling. “Artist Lawrence Frates has used his talent to help. This is what Pumpkin Festival is all about. Everyone letting their own lights shine.”

Let it Shine, the non-profit producers of the fest, has demonstrated for four years that when a region’s schools, businesses, neighborhoods, families and individuals sit down to carve their pumpkins, one community becomes a showplace for the world.


2015 Programming, updated August 23, 2015 (Subject to change)

PumpkinExpressWebPumpkin Express Train: All Aboard the first-ever Pumpkin Express for train rides along the lakes. Departing Laconia’s historic train station at the site of the spectacular Pumpkin Tower, these excursions are sure to be the highlight of Pfest 2015. Tickets sold at the station.

Assisted transport for handicapped visitors!  Another dream-come-true at Pfest 2015 is the opportunity for handicapped visitors to tour the festival via trams driven by City of Laconia staff. This transportation, arranged by DPW’s Ann Saltmarsh, is sponsored by 5-Star Golf Carts. Handicapped parking and tram headquarters are located on New Salem Street, near the train station, Zippo attraction and the tower.

Pronounced “Pumpkin Alley,” it’s Pump-Canal(y) Street for Kids

Laconia’s Canal Street will be orange from one end to the other with activities for kids and creative types of all ages. Shops on the street have their own special pumpkin plans, so do not miss this street in your explorations of Pumpkin Festival 2015. Sponsored by Larry Frates Creates and friends.

Pumpkins for Area School Children. A great tradition of Pumpkin Festival continues! We expect to distribute the pumpkins from a central location, to be picked up by a school representative. A maintenance truck or pick up or van will work. 

Pumpkin Dump Derby. The race to clean up Pumpkin Festival involves competing teams, lottery-assigned territories and a grand prize of $1000 to the team’s charity of choice. All teams who complete their territory win $100 for the charity of their choice. Sponsored by Shipyard Brewing. Details and registration information will be available here SEPT 1.The Derby is limited to 12 teams and a waiting list will be maintained.

Pumpkin Bowling Noon-6pm. Real bowling pins but instead of bowling balls, we’ll be bowling with pumpkins–the hard, “sugar” pumpkins. Try the new sport of pumpkin bowling in the middle of downtown Laconia. Sponsored by Bank of New Hampshire.

The Runaway Pumpkin 10k & 5k Run/Walk 9am. Location: Laconia Athletic & Swim Club, 827 North Main Street, Laconia. Before the festival, first thing in the morning, a choice of distances, welcoming walkers as well as serious runners to this scenic course which includes the WOW Trail (WOW is an acronym for the three lakes along the rail trail, Winnipesaukee, Winnisquam and Opechee). Previously this event was called WOW Fest and was held in September but has joined the festivities of Pumpkin Festival 2015.

Haunted Attractions. The Belknap Mill, the oldest, unaltered brick textile mill in the United States, has plenty of history to draw from for its planned haunted mill attraction. Stay tuned for details! And across town, the UCC/Congregational Church plans to send chills up many a visitor’s spine too.

Welcome Centers at Four Entrances to Downtown. Welcome to Pumpkin Festival 2015…. Log in your carved jack-o’-lantern to be part of the world record tally, make a donation to keep the festival shining… all at whichever entrance gate you choose. If you forgot your pumpkin, you can carve one at the carving stations and log it in. Visitors will feel warmly welcomed to Pumpkin Festival 2015 at any of the four+ Welcome Centers.

ZIPPO, Official Lighter of Pumpkin Festival. In addition to hosting the Welcome Center near the Railroad Station, ZIPPO will be offering their official candle lighters for sale at their booth and at the Pumpkin Shop/s where festival logo souvenir t-shirts and other experience extenders can also be purchased.

Pumpkin Festival Children’s Costume Parade, Lead Sponsor, Storyland. 12:30pm Location: Loop through Downtown Laconia to be finalized. Children (of all ages!) decked out in Halloween costumes parade through streets lined with delighted spectators. After many years of organizers dreaming about it, Cinderella’s pumpkin coach from Storyland is expected to appear at Pumpkin Festival 2015, and lead the parade! Photo opportunities at the Train Station are also planned.

64-foot Photo Opportunity 10am-8:30pm. Visitors can view the festival from 64 feet in the air, via the Century Wheel planned for Beacon Street West.

Food and Craft Courts 10am-8:30pm. Planned Locations: City Hall lot on Beacon Street East, Farmers’ Market Area on Main Street and near the Ferris Wheel on Beacon Street West. Macaroni and Cheese, chili and fried dough, plus plenty of pumpkin-inspired treats are among the menu offerings prepared by local non-profit organizations as well as professional vendors. In addition to food offerings, the Food & Craft Court includes three dozen artisans offering crafts from glassware to fudge with many returning favorites. Necessary facilities nearby.

Spectacular Pumpkin Tower Plus Thousands of Jack-o’-Lanterns on Street-level Displays. 10am-8:30pm. The signature tower is the centerpiece of Pumpkin Festival 2015. Streets will be lined with pumpkins and pumpkin spectators, for smooth strolling and the best viewing, unfettered by vendor booths and queues. Families and seniors will feel very welcome and handicap parking in excellent locations makes access easy. Live musical entertainment will add to the atmosphere on the bandstand and at other selected locations but the sights will carry the day!

Another important matter to be determined in the next 3 weeks is whether the Laconia festival will officially vie for the Guinness World Record for the most lit jack-o’-lanterns in one place–a record recaptured from Boston by Keene in 2013 (30,581). Although organizers will be counting the pumpkins and tallying an official count, the decision of whether or not to have the attempt at the record sanctioned by Guinness or not has yet to be made.

The 2015 Pumpkin Festival runs from 10am-8:30pm on Saturday, October 24 in the heart of NH, downtown Laconia.