The Hippo


Dec 13, 2019








Goffstown Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off and Regatta

Where: Downtown Goffstown and the Piscataquog River
When: Saturday, Oct. 17, and Sunday, Oct. 18. Weigh-off is Saturday at 11 a.m.; Regatta is on Sunday at 3 p.m. 
Cost: Free admission. Some activities have a fee.

All a-gourd
Goffstown hosts annual Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off and Regatta

By Angie Sykeny

Fifteen years ago, Jim Beauchemin, a member of New Hampshire Giant Pumpkin Growers Association, was trying to figure out how he and fellow growers could get one last use out of their pumpkins instead of just throwing them away at the end of the season. 

The result was the Goffstown Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off and Regatta, which this year will take place on Saturday, Oct. 17, and Sunday, Oct. 18, in the downtown area. Main events include a largest pumpkin competition, a pumpkin cook-off, a talent contest, a 10K road race and, of course, the regatta — racing giant pumpkin boats in the Piscataquog River.
“Goffstown Main Street Program was looking to create a [community event], and I came up with this idea,” Beauchemin said. “I thought of turning pumpkins into boats and racing them down the river. Well, we gave it a try, and 500 people came out that first year to see pumpkins float down a river.” 
The weekend kicks off on Saturday at 9 a.m. with a small parade in which the competing pumpkin growers will caravan into town with their giant pumpkins. The weigh-off will begin at 11 a.m., and there are usually at least two dozen pumpkins in the running. Last year’s winning pumpkin was from Nashua and weighed 1,313 pounds.
Stop by the town common at 1 p.m. for Goffstown’s Great Talent Competition. Geared toward kids and teens, the competition showcases young singers, dancers, jugglers and others. Judges will rate each performance using scorecards. The contestant with the highest score will be named the winner, but in the case of a tie, it’s up to the audience to decide. 
Judging for the pumpkin cook-off will begin at 2 p.m. on the town common. All submissions must include pumpkins or pumpkins seeds in some way. Winners will be named in four categories: appetizers/breads, entrees, desserts and kid-made (for contestants ages 12 and under). 
“You’d have to see it. There’s things you’ve never heard of before, but they show up,” Beauchemin said. “Pumpkin soups, pumpkin whoopie pies, pumpkin cookies, that sort of thing.” 
Sunday will commence with the Goffstown Pumpkin Regatta 10K Run at 8:30 a.m., followed by the Kids Pumpkin Patch Relay at 10:15 a.m., both of which are new additions this year. 
The 10K will launch in Goffstown Village, loop around Glen Lake via the Goffstown Rail Trail, then finish on Mill Street next to Village Trestle tavern, where runners can convene for a post-race party. At the pumpkin relay, kids are invited to form teams and race wagons full of pumpkins up and down the street. 
Don’t miss the giant pumpkin drop at noon, when a crane will drop a 1,000-pound pumpkin from about 70 feet in the air into the town pool. 
Activities will begin at the river at 2 p.m., with the 50/50 mini pumpkin race. It works exactly like a rubber duck race; for $5, you can claim a mini pumpkin, about the size of an orange, to contend in the river race. The owner of the winning pumpkin wins half of the proceeds. 
The most anticipated part of the weekend, the regatta, will begin at 3 p.m. The boat captains are delegated representatives from various groups, including the “original four” — the board of selectmen, the fire and police departments and Goffstown Main Street Program — which have had a boat every year since the first regatta in 2000. Many captains will wear costumes and decorate their boats accordingly, such as Spongebob on a Krabby Patty or a Star Wars Clone on a spacecraft. 
The race will begin with the firing of a cannon. Captains must use kayak paddles to navigate around buoys and reach the finish line. The course is about 100 yards. 
It’s a Goffstown Pumpkin Regatta tradition to have a surprise finale come down the river directly after the race. 
“No one knows what it will be,” Beauchemin said. “We’ve had a ‘sharknado’ appearance where a bunch of kayaks decorated to look like sharks came down and circled the pumpkins. We’ve had a tug boat come down and chase the pumpkin boats around and try to tip them over. One year, we had Vikings on a Viking ship with T-shirt cannons. We’ve seen it all.”
Other festivities that weekend include pumpkin bowling, pumpkin catapulting, a kids’ pumpkin hunt, pony rides, hot air balloon rides, a DJ, food vendors, an art show and more. Most activities and vendors will be available on Saturday from morning until 4 p.m. and on Sunday beginning at noon. 

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