Plans for Pumpkin Festival progressing; beer-wine tent will be open two nights

Festival organizers and downtown business owners met at Pasta Loft last week to talk about the Milford Pumpkin Festival.

MILFORD – Early this year it looked like the Pumpkin Festival, a 28-year tradition, would disappear, after the Milford Improvement Team, the long time organizer, and the Souhegan Valley Chamber of Commerce announced they were stepping away from it.

A few weeks later, however, a small group of residents led by Carol Gates and Wade Campbell said they would organize a festival. They call themselves the Granite Town Festivities Committee. Last week Campbell told selectmen plans are “coming along pretty well,” with the help of the Milford Lions Club and Milford Rotary Club.

Last week, the committee hosted an evening get together at Pasta Loft to answer questions and talk about concerns, including parking and portable toilets. More than a half dozen downtown business owners showed up.

“We were blown away by the support,” said Mary Skuse, the committee’s secretary.

The committee was scheduled to meet again on May 2. Meetings are held in the Milford Police Station’s community room, and everyone is invited.

“We are all volunteers with full-time jobs and families,” Skuse said, so they need all the help they can get. “We are very excited to get this festival planned, but we still need a lot of help from sponsors, vendors, and volunteers.”

It will take more than $93,000 to pay for the insurance, rentals and all of the other costs associated with the festival, the group estimates.

Starting in 1990 as a small event with volunteers selling pumpkins and arts and crafts to raise money for town hall auditorium renovations, the pumpkin festival grew over the years to become one of the most popular in New England, attracting 35,000 people over Columbus Day weekend.

Campbell told selectmen they are trying to get sponsors and insurance coverage, hire an electrician and plan to meet with fire and emergency service officials. There are no plans to scale the festival back, he said, and it will be “pretty much the same” as in the past, but they would like to see a big closing act on Sunday.

All activities on the Community House lawn, including the beer and wine tent, will be organized by the Rotary Club and Lions Club and the rest of the festival will be on Middle Street, the Oval and Emerson Park, as usual.

At the committee’s request, selectmen voted unanimously to waive a town ordinance to allow the selling of beer and wine over both Friday and Saturday evening in the tasting tent.

“It’s going to be a great event,” Janet Langdell, of the Rotary Club, told the board.

To raise money, the committee is asking for $20 each from 1,500 families. They have set up a GoFundMe page at

https://www.gofundme.com/qvjq85

Checks can be sent to PO Box 847, Milford, N.H. 03055.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.

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