Colossal September Surprise Announced by Pumpkin Festival Organizers Let it Shine Inc.
September 4, 2014
Keene Pumpkin Festival's 2014 distribution of pumpkins to schools, youth and nonprofit organizations will take place at C&S Wholesale Grocers off Rte. 12 in Keene on Tuesday, October 14. See map at left or download pdf. The distribution process has been improved from lessons learned: This year, pumpkins must be reserved by October 7 online at pumpkinfestival.org and must be be picked up October 14, 7am-6pm at C&S. Priority will be given to schools, youth groups and nursing homes, one pumpkin per person. Members of the community are also invited to register online for free pumpkins, while supplies last. One pumpkin per person is the limit; 10 pumpkins per family. "We want to be sure no one is turned away or disappointed this year," explains Lisa Edwards of Let it Shine, the nonprofit volunteer organization that runs the festival. "Getting thousands of pumpkins into the hands of people who want to carve them, in one day, is a pretty amazing feat."
Emailed registration confirmations will be required to receive the pumpkins. Anyone not comfortable with computer registrations is encouraged to visit Keene Public Library, where the staff will help anyone who needs help. Edwards and others will monitor registrations and decide by October 7 if pumpkins can be offered to other organizations. "More than 30,000 pumpkins will be carved in the region the week of October 18 and not all of them can come from the C&S gift. We hope businesses and individuals who can afford to will purchase pumpkins from Keene High Interact and local stores and farms. And by Pumpkin Festival time, we hope everyone has a pumpkin to carve," says Edwards.
The plan allows for large trucks to back up to two loading docks to be loaded by pallet jack. Other trucks can be loaded by forklift inside the building. And cars and small trucks can drive-through and have pumpkins loaded by volunteers from National Grange Mutual (NGM). Cheshire Village Pizza is providing lunch for the volunteers because they need the energy to give away... 15,000 pumpkins....
15,000 Vermont-grown pumpkins are coming to Keene the week of Pumpkin Festival donated by C&S Wholesale Grocers in what festival organizers have labeled the "Colossal September Surprise." C&S has made large donations of pumpkins in 2012 and 2013, a major factor in winning the nationally televised "Pumpkin Wars," and reclaiming the Guinness World Record.
Ken Hathaway, a Let it Shine board member responsible for Pumpkin Pickup and Drop-off and an employee at C&S says, ?C&S is excited to contribute to Let It Shine and the 2014 Pumpkin Festival. C&S is proud to call Keene home and to support events like the Pumpkin Festival that highlight the spirit and sense of community that defines the greater Monadnock Region.?
The distribution of pumpkins had previously taken place outdoors at 350 Marlboro Street, the City Police and Public Works building. In 2012, 15,000 pumpkins were enthusiastically claimed and carved by residents of the region. Those 15,000, plus 14,381 more, earned Keene Pumpkin Festival $29,381 from Discover Card for besting a competing city, Highwood, Illinois, on the HGTV show "Pumpkin Wars:"
2013's "Colossal September Surprise" stunned organizers who had committed to pulling out all the stops to bring the record home. To win the record back from Boston, people in the region still needed to procure and carve an additional 10,129 lit jack-o'-lanterns. Local growers and stores met the demand.
Ruth Sterling of event managers Sterling Design & Communications comments, "This C&S gift will not be taken for granted. This is huge. It gives the community a head start on presenting a world-class, world-record pumpkin display, and inspires and challenges us all to give our best effort. The donation supports the dozens and dozens of nonprofits who earn large portions of their annual budgets selling fair fare to visitors, helps provide the economic boost to so many area businesses, and helps assure that the festival can continue attracting prospective employees to the area.
On October 19, 2013, the C&S investment paid off when Mayor Kendall Lane announced that the community and guests accomplished the impossible after ten years?the festival's 9th World Record. Sterling says, "With our largest area employers, our schools, businesses, families, church groups, neighborhoods and individuals pulling together, Keene Pumpkin Festival at last brought it home. 'It's home' is the theme of the 2014 festival."