Keep Pumpkin Festival going with support for Warrant Article 17

To the Editor:

For 25 years, Milford’s Pumpkin Festival has drawn thousands of visitors to the town’s historic downtown. One of the most highly anticipated fall festivals each year in New England, visitors experience Milford at its finest. Traditionally held over Columbus Day weekend, participants engage in a wide range of fun activities designed for all ages, but they also witness the community spirit of local volunteers, the support from local businesses, and the important role the downtown area plays in our community. Voted 5 years in a row (2010-2014) as the “Best Community Event” by readers of the Hippo Press and the 2014“Best Local Event” at the Souhegan Valley “Best of” Awards, an upwards of 35,000 people attended the Milford Pumpkin Festival over the 3 day weekend in 2014.

Special events like the Milford Pumpkin Festival provide great visibility for the Town of Milford and help foster civic pride and a positive image of the community as a whole. The Milford Pumpkin Festival is the single, greatest marketing tool that the Town of Milford has in promoting its cultural, historic, natural and economic resources. Milford shines during its Pumpkin Festival, as a place to live, work, shop, dine, travel, and do business. In addition to all the fun activities, the Festival also allows nearly 40 Milford area non-profit and civic groups, school clubs, sports teams, scout troops, churches and many more to participate and raise funds to support their own endeavors in the Milford community. All funds raised by these organizations are then reinvested back into the community in the form of scholarships, services to the needy, team uniforms, and much more.

Since 2000, the Milford Improvement Team (MIT, formerly DO-IT) has taken on the role of coordinating the Milford Pumpkin festival on behalf of the town and its citizens. MIT is a 501(c) 6 non-profit organization run by its Executive Director and an all-volunteer Board of Directors. In a public-private partnership with the Town of Milford, MIT seeks to promote prosperity and vitality in Milford, and to help maintain its character and historic significance. Coordinating hundreds of community volunteers each year (totaling 3008 volunteer hours in 2014!), MIT holds events and organizes projects on behalf of the Town of Milford. Some projects in 2014 included a Vacant Spaces Tour that showcased our available commercial spaces, including industrial, office and retail spaces; a town-wide Milford Pride clean-up day; our annual A Taste of Milford event which spotlighted Milford restaurants and the businesses that hosted them; the development of a tour of Milford’s historic sites using QR code technology (www.qrtoursmilfordnh.org); the restoration and rededication of Milford’s World War ll Memorial Park; the 25th Annual Milford Pumpkin Festival, and the Milford Holiday Fairs and Events. MIT is also an active participant in the Souhegan Valley Chamber of Commerce, Milford’s Economic Development Committee, NH Vibrant Communities, and the UNH-Extension’s Business Retention and Expansion Project to survey businesses in the Souhegan Valley Region. Proceeds from our fundraising events are reinvested back into the Milford community. MIT also provides the holiday decorations and plantings in and around the Oval each year. In 2015, we look forward to bringing back the Milford Arts Festival and continuing our work to promote economic development in Milford and improve the quality of life in our town.

As the coordinator of the Milford Pumpkin Festival each year, MIT takes on the financial burden of the major “fixed” expenses associated with running a festival of this magnitude (rain or shine), such as the fireworks display, shuttle buses, tent and stage rentals, light towers, porta potties, electrical, sound, insurance, entertainment and much, much more. We do, however, ask the voters of Milford for support of the Pumpkin Festival via each year a warrant article that provides funds for emergency services at the festival each year. In hosting an event of this size, the town must have sufficient Police, Fire and Ambulance presence during the festival. As we have seen in Keene this past year, these services are a crucial component of running the festival, without which the festival would not be possible.

In asking for these funds on behalf of the town each year, MIT does not ever physically receive these funds – the warrant article money stays in the town’s account, as money the voters have asked town has set aside to cover the expense of the Police, Fire, Ambulance and DPW departments associated with the Pumpkin Festival.

The Milford Pumpkin Festival remains one of the free community events in New Hampshire. Help us continue this tradition into the festival’s 26th year, by voting YES on March10, 2015, to support Warrant Article 17. Without these funds, MIT will not be able to go forward with coordinating the Pumpkin Festival, and the event will have to be canceled.

Wendy Hunt

Executive Director

The Milford Improvement Team

Milford