Goffstown Pumpkin Regatta returns
by Jill Lessard
Things are going to get creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky on the Piscataquog River at the 22nd annual Goffstown Pumpkin Regatta, an autumn event unlike any other, on Saturday, Oct. 14, and Sunday, Oct. 15, in downtown Goffstown.
“Addams Family – Every Night Is Halloween” is the theme for this year’s fall festival, hosted by the Goffstown Main Street Program (GMSP). An array of Gomezes, Morticias, Wednesdays, Uncle Festers, Cousin Its and other “Things” are guaranteed to be on hand (pun intended) to board the giant pumpkins-turned-boats, some of which may “Lurch” to and fro, and possibly sink into the old mill stream.
The weekend-long celebration of giant gourds will once again feature the Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off on Saturday followed by the fun-filled Pumpkin Regatta and Pumpkin Drop on Sunday, which always makes a splash. A variety of contests, such as the crowd-favorite pie eating contest, the pet costume contest and a pumpkin cook-off, will be held. Other entertainment, including a coloring page and a talent show, as well as food, crafts and a hayride will also be included in the weekend of activities. Admission is free.
“A long-time volunteer thought turning our giant pumpkins into boats and racing them in the river would be an interesting touch,” said Tina Lawton, President of the GMSP Board of Directors. That volunteer was local visionary Jim Beauchemin, and the pumpkins competing in the weigh-off can tip the scales at one ton or more. “Little did he know at that time,” Lawton said, “it would become one of the most popular fall events in New Hampshire.”
No wonder the event has been covered national outlets like NBC News and the Washington Post. Atlas Obscura even sent a reporter to participate in the race, but her hopes for victory sank quickly along with her giant pumpkin boat. “I went down with my ship,” said Gastro Obscura foods editor Sam O’Brien.
“That’s valiant. That’s the best thing a captain can do. So I’m proud of myself. I did my best.”
How many adventurous Addams Family aficionados will participate in this year’s highly competitive contest? “That depends upon how many giant pumpkins we have,” Lawton said. “Some pumpkins split or fail before the big day. This year is especially challenging with all the wet weather. Many pumpkins have split in recent days. We are hoping for at least five.”
In addition to the gutted gargantuan gourd regatta, the fur may fly as area pets rival each other in the pet costume contest, hosted by and located at Glen Lake Animal Hospital (15 Elm St.) on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Other contests will include the mouth-watering pumpkin cook-off, featuring four categories (appetizers/bread, entree, desserts, and kids (under age 12)); the talent show, spotlighting three age groups (up to 9 years; 10 to 15, and 16+), and the pie-eating competition, with three groups of 10 hungry and brave individuals competing to be named No. 1 in their age bracket.
Visitors are encouraged to enter the scavenger hunt, a fun way to get to know the village better, and the coloring contest, to be decided on Sunday morning after the judges review every completed coloring sheet brought to the GMSP Booth.
Lawton has borne witness to some of the most memorable moments — and mishaps — in the history of the Goffstown Pumpkin Regatta. “It snowed one year, and boats have sunk in the river,” she recalled. “[But] we do things with giant pumpkins like no other event.”
All are invited to put a witch’s shawl on, grab a broomstick you can crawl on, and plan to pay a call on the 22nd Annual Goffstown Pumpkin Regatta this weekend. “Come see the fun!” Lawson said. “And fall in love with the village of Goffstown.”
Goffstown Pumpkin Weigh-Off and Regatta
When: Saturday, Oct. 14, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 15, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Where: 15 Main St., Goffstown, NH
Cost: Admission is free
Municipal parking lots (with accessible spaces) and street parking are available.
Saturday, Oct. 14
9 a.m. – giant pumpkins begin to arrive at the Common
9 a.m. to noon – touch a truck (corner of Elm and Maple)
10 a.m. – giant pumpkin carving begins
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – art show off at the town hall (16 Main St.)
10:30 a.m. – pet costume contest at Glen Lake Animal Hospital (15 Elm St.)
11 a.m. – Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off at the Common
1 p.m. – pumpkin cook-off (location TBA)
2:30 p.m. – giant pumpkin boat building on Mill Street
Sunday, Oct. 15
10:30 a.m. – talent show on the Common
noon – Giant Pumpkin Drop (Depot Street, across from the post office)
1 p.m. – pie eating contest on Mill Street
2 p.m. – mini pumpkin race for 50/50 raffle on the river
3 p.m. – Giant Pumpkin Regatta at the river
Featured image: Courtesy photo.