The Hippo


Jun 2, 2020








Giant Pumpkin Weigh Off and Regatta

Where: 7 Main St., Goffstown
When: Saturday, Oct. 14, from 7 a.m to 8 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 15, from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Cost: Free
Saturday, Oct. 14
7 a.m. Parks and Recreation Great Pumpkin Hunt
8 a.m. Glen Lake Animal Hospital open house library book sale 
9 a.m. Giant pumpkins arrive at the Common 
Giant pumpkin carving demonstration 
Tethered hot air balloon rides begin 
4-H petting zoo at Ace Hardware
Apple slingshots on Mill Street
Art Show-Off in Town Hall
Rummage sale on St. Matthew’s Church lawn
Open house at Masonic Lodge
Spin to Win at TD Bank
9:30 a.m. Exhibitors on the Common
10 a.m. Live music at Brown Graphix
Miss Robbins Dance Etc. on the Common
Pumpkin painting at Ace Hardware
10:30 a.m. Doggie costume contest at Glen Lake Animal Hospital
11 a.m. NHGPA State Weigh-Off on the Common
Main Street Chicken Kabob on Mill Street
Pony rides on Church Street
Noon Crowning of Prince and Princess on the Common
1 p.m. pumpkin seed spitting contest on the Common
Goffstown’s Great Talent on the Common
K-9 police demonstration on Mill Street
2 p.m. Cook-Off on the Common
Fireman’s mini-muster on Mill Street
2:30 p.m. Giant pumpkin boat building on Mill Street
4 p.m. Booths close
8 p.m. Live music with Off Duty Angels at The Village Trestle
Sunday, Oct. 15
7:30 a.m. 10K Race registration at The Village Trestle
8:30 a.m. 10K Race starts at The Village Trestle
10 a.m. Art Show Off at Town Hall
Music by DJ, etc.
Vendor booths open
Apple slingshots on Mill Street
Pumpkin games on the Common
10:15 a.m. Kids’ Pumpkin Dash starts at The Village Trestle
11 a.m. Toad Hill Farm pony rides on Church Street
Noon Giant pumpkin drop on Church Street
4-H petting zoo at Ace Hardware
1 p.m. Pie eating contest on Mill Street
2 p.m. Mini pumpkin race on Mill Street
2:15 p.m. Little Red Wagon kids’ race on Mill Street
2:45 p.m. Arrival of Pumpkin Prince and Princess
3 p.m. Giant Pumpkin Regatta on Mill Street

Pumpkin paddling
Giant gourds set sail in Goffstown

By Ethan Hogan

 The sight of massive pumpkins racing down the Piscataquog River has become much anticipated in Goffstown each October. Part of the town’s annual Giant Pumpkin Weigh Off and Regatta, the race features pumpkins carved by local groups competing to see who can design the best “boat.”

The pumpkins come from the New Hampshire Giant Pumpkin Growers Association, which has been bringing them to festivals and fairs all season. The regatta is the last stop for many of the 1,000-pound gourds. 
“The giant pumpkins come rolling into town and then they weigh them out on the commons,” said Charity Frost, executive director of the Goffstown Main Street Program, which hosts the event each year. 
The teams, which each donate $300 to get their pumpkins, are randomly assigned to the pumpkins and begin carving and decorating before the race. Each year there’s a new theme, and this year’s is “storybook.” 
“Some people’s focus is ‘I want to win’ and others say, ‘I want to have the coolest-looking pumpkin,’ and some try and do both,” Frost said.
Once they’re carved and on the water, Frost said, the pumpkins wind up resembling floats in a parade. The pumpkins float naturally, Frost said, but sandbags are often added to balance them.
Peggy Hatfield, board secretary of the Goffstown Main Street Program, said the pumpkins used to run on electric motors but now the racers use paddles, which are more reliable, to get around. 
“The paddling is hard because the pumpkins are so round,” Hatfield said.
The race starts by the town’s dam and goes upstream to the Main Street bridge. The first pumpkin to pass under the bridge wins. The pumpkin with the best design gets its team’s name added to a trophy. The person on the winning team who is operating the pumpkin during the race gets to take home his own trophy. 
The concept of the pumpkin regatta came from Jim Beauchemin, a member of the New Hampshire Giant Pumpkin Growers Association. Beauchemin said he was looking for a place to host the state’s giant pumpkin weigh-off, and the Goffstown Mainstreet Program was looking for an event to host downtown.
Beauchemin had seen images on TV of people in Nova Scotia carving out 500- to 1,000-pound pumpkins and floating them in the water. He suggested the idea of a pumpkin regatta to the organizers in Goffstown, and they were hooked.
“They were all in awe; they couldn’t beleive we wanted to try such a thing,” Beauchemin said.
Meg Norklun, the gymnastics director at the Goffstown YMCA, became the first woman to win the regatta, in 2015. Norklun is competing again this year, and her strategy is to get the energy from the crowd that watches from the finish line on the bridge.
“When you are dressed in the costume and the people are cheering you on, you get so much adrenaline out there,” Norklun said.
Norklun said her pumpkin design will remain a secret until race day.
“It’s a short race but it takes a lot of effort and energy,” Norklun said.
The weekend-long event also includes a pumpkin carving demonstration, an art show and a 10K road race. An apple slingshot event for kids will have kids shooting apples at targets out in the water. The pumpkin seed spitting competition is also popular with kids.
A mini pumpkin race features a truckload of small pumpkins labeled with numbers. Participants buy a pumpkin for $5 or five pumpkins for $20. The dump truck dumps the pumpkins from the bridge, and the first one to flow downstream and reach the dam wins. The winner gets half of the proceeds and the other half goes to the Main Street Program. 

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