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Keene ups its allocation for annual pumpkin festival


KEENE - The city council at its Thursday night meeting voted to give $52,000 to this year's annual Pumpkin Festival. That's $12,000 more than it had originally pledged, but still less than the $70,000 organizers of the festival had requested.

Ruth Sterling of Let it Shine Inc., the organization that has run the festival since 2011, said Friday she is grateful the council has begun to see the value of the festival and increased its original $40,000 appropriation.

However, she expressed concern the festival budget was $18,000 short only four months out from the October event.

"It's disappointing that historically the city supported the festival more in the past," she said. "In 2009, they gave $80,000."

The festival will cost an estimated $279,000 to produce this year, Sterling said, a $10,000 increase from last year's budget.

Sterling said she refuses to let the shortfall dampen the positive impact of the Keene Pumpkin Festival.

"I'm trying to rally the fundraising troops and find another $18,000," she said.

Sterling said she started her funding request to the city early this year and explained the financial impact the festival has on the city.

"It's a marketing investment," she said. "It's really an investment in the economic boost that the festival gives the city.

"My next crusade is that the state of New Hampshire recognize the pumpkin festival in its marketing campaign," Sterling said.

Each year, the festival brings in $250,000 in revenue for the state, and as a thank-you, the state sends a bill for state police services, Sterling said.

The pumpkin festival "attracts people to New Hampshire in an incredibly positive way," she said.

The festival is also funded through vendor fees, merchandise sales and donations from corporations and area businesses.The event is free, but for the past several years the festival has suggested attendees make a small donation at the several welcome booths.

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