Milford’s ‘Mr. Pumpkin’ retires – sort of

MILFORD – There will be plenty of pumpkins at the Milford Pumpkin Fes­tival, of course, but with a major difference that few people will notice.

For the past quarter-century, all of the pump­kins have been grown by Bob Kokko, and this year they won’t.

"Mr. Pumpkin," as he’s called, has retired.

"I decided I’d get out of the pumpkin-growing business," he said recent­ly. "It’s too time consum­ing."

The festival will be held from Oct. 9-11 this year.

Kokko said there were too many frustrations last year, including a pump­kin virus and invasions by hungry deer.

Kokko has been growing between 1,000 and 1,500 orange orbs on a 1-acre

field on Osgood Road each year for a quarter of a cen­tury and donating them to the festival. He will still donate them, but he’ll buy them wholesale from lo­cal farms to be sold on the Milford Oval and used for the children’s pumpkin painting event.

"There would be no Pumpkin Festival without Bob Kokko," said Wendy Hunt, director of the Mil­ford Improvement Team, which organizes the fes­tival. "He’s wonderful. … And if we’re running low, he brings more."

The festival started small in 1990 as a way to raise money to renovate Milford’s Town Hall au­ditorium, which was in such bad shape that it was closed to the public. The restoration, which was partly paid for by the festival, earned the town a national award for his­toric reservation in 1993.

The festival grew, and on Columbus Day week­end each year, it attracts many thousands of people to downtown Milford over the three-day weekend.

Festivities start Friday evening with food ven­dors, two sound stages, a craft fair, carved pump­kin lighting, a haunted trail, beer tasting and fire­works.

The beer tasting event on Friday evening fea­tures more than 15 New Hampshire brewers, live music and food from the Red Arrow Diner. It will take place at 5:30 p.m. on the Community House lawn. Tasting tickets are $10.

Fireworks are at 8:45 p.m. that day.

Over Saturday and Sun­day, there will be pump­kin painting, face paint­ing, scarecrow making, bounce houses, food, a talent show, a craft fair, a giant pumpkin weigh-in for cash prizes, and other entertainment. MILFORD – There will be plenty of pumpkins at the Milford Pumpkin Fes­tival, of course, but with a major difference that few people will notice.

For the past quarter-century, all of the pump­kins have been grown by Bob Kokko, and this year they won’t.

"Mr. Pumpkin," as he’s called, has retired.

"I decided I’d get out of the pumpkin-growing business," he said recent­ly. "It’s too time consum­ing."

The festival will be held from Oct. 9-11 this year.

Kokko said there were too many frustrations last year, including a pump­kin virus and invasions by hungry deer.

Kokko has been growing between 1,000 and 1,500 orange orbs on a 1-acre