As the name suggests, Pumpkinfest in Damariscotta celebrates all things pumpkin.
During the event, they weigh them, carve them, eat them, parade them, and even hurl them from a giant catapult. But the highlight of the festival is the Pumpkin Regatta!!
"Are you ready for pumpkin racin'?" shouted the Regatta MC from a boat in Damariscotta Harbor. The idea of racing giant gourds may seem perplexing to the public, but to these self-professed "pumpkin heads," the leap from raising them to racing them isn't as big as you might think.
In the individual paddle races, the true limitations of boating in a misshapen barrel came to light. An outstretched paddle did one racer in. "The secret is actually in selecting the right pumpkin. And finding its center of gravity, said the veteran racer. Grab a few seeds from this year's and next year instead of baling from the sidelines; you might go home with a Golden Gourd.
The Pumpkins are Coming, the Pumpkins are Coming!
Damariscotta’s Pumpkinfest & Regatta™ Returns October 2017. As the days begin to grow shorter and the evening air turns crisp, pumpkin growers lovingly tend their gourds, hoping to take first prize in the Volunteer Growers Weigh-Off or setting a new Maine state record and taking away a chunk of the $10,000 in prize money in the Official Great Pumpkin Commonwealth Weigh-off events that kick off the 2017 Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta™.
These giant pumpkins, stars in their own right, become the celebrities of Pumpkinfest as the works of art that grace the streets of the Twin Villages of Damariscotta and Newcastle, and boats that race in the annual Pumpkinboat Regatta. Through the years, thousands of photos have been taken of these stars of Pumpkinfest, by visitors from around the world who participate in the festival.
2017 marks the Eleventh year for Damariscotta’s Pumpkinfest & Regatta™, a festival that celebrates all things pumpkin. As in past years, Pumpkinfest will feature kids activities on Water Street, dessert making and pie eating contests, the pumpkin hurl and catapult, the pumpkin derby, underwater pumpkin carving, and the ever-popular 180-foot pumpkin drop, to name just a few of the many events that celebrate the orange orb.
With each new year, new activities are added to Pumpkinfest, and this year is no exception. For the entertainment of all there will be street performers throughout the Twin Villages at various times during Columbus Day weekend. Musicians, magicians, puppeteers and more, will be found by visitors along Main, Elm and Theater Streets, entertaining the crowds as they stroll downtown looking at the painted and carved giant pumpkins. Another new activity, a “Zombie Run,” will take place at the YMCA sure to be a hit with racers and spectators alike. Always popular with visitors is the pumpkin dessert making contest. Bakers will make their favorite desserts, hoping to please the celebrity judges and take home the grand prize. Visitors, however, are the big winners, as they are able to purchase and sample the tasty creations at the end of the judging. An event not to be missed for those with a sweet tooth!
The Pumpkin Derby (think Pinewood Derby with pumpkins), now in its third year, promises again to excite the crowd with returning winners from the past two years, and new racers who will challenge them for the grand prize. The fun of the race is only exceeded by the creativity of the designs of the Derby racers.
Mother Nature presented a challenge to Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta™ this year, requiring a major change in the schedule for the Regatta, always the highlight of the festival. The Regatta has been moved to Monday morning, because of the timing of high tide in the Damariscotta harbor. “For the last six years,” explains Pumpkinfest Co-founder and Regatta Chairman Bill Clark, “Mother Nature cooperated and the tides were high enough in the daytime for the Regatta to be held on Sunday.” But not this year. High tides are occurring either too early or too late over the weekend, which would result in the Regatta taking place in the dark. “That’s not a good thing for the racers or the audience.” said Clark. Please check the site for times.
“Pumpkin Cove”—for the giant gourds to float.
For those who wish to visit Pumpkinfest but want to avoid the hassle of driving and parking, The Maine Eastern Railroad’s Pumpkin Patch Express train from Brunswick/Bath/Wiscassett will run on Saturday, arriving at Newcastle at 11:00 a.m., leaving at 4:00 p.m., allowing ample time to participate in many of the activities taking place on Saturday. For more information on the ride or to make a reservation, visit www.maineeasternrailroad.com. To stay on top of all the activities taking place at the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta™ or to plan your trip to the Twin Villages to participate in the festival,
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Pumpkinfest & Regatta is a 501(C)(3) organization whose mission is to promote education to citizens of all ages regarding the specific agricultural science required to grow giant pumpkins, and to provide local non-profit organizations with opportunities for dissemination of information on their activities and fundraising. Pumpkinfest is pleased to again have The Lincoln County News as its official newspaper sponsor, and Down East Magazine as its official magazine sponsor.