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USA TODAY selects Keene Pumpkin Festival as nominee in 10Best awards

KEENE — The Keene Pumpkin Festival has been singled out for its cuisine as one of the nominees in USA TODAY’s latest 10Best Readers’ Choice travel award contest.

The festival is one of 20 contenders in the Best Specialty Food Festival category.

Festival organizer Ruth Sterling said all she knows is that someone nominated the Keene Pumpkin Festival for its food.

“It’s wonderful that we’re celebrating the food aspect of the pumpkin and it is funny that USA TODAY called our attention to that,” Sterling said. “There is a lot of celebration to be done about the pumpkins.”

The Keene Pumpkin Festival, which won back the Guinness Book World Record for the most lit and carved pumpkins last year, usually has a focus of the visual, Sterling said. The decorative lit jack-o-lantern, she said.

“Since the beginning I’ve been trying to celebrate the pumpkin in all its glory and it’s very edible,” she said.

The non-profit run food court at the festival is known for many food items from fried pickles to kettle corn. Pumpkin-themed items are also part of the festival, the fudge shop in town makes a pumpkin fudge and pumpkin whoopee pies are a festival staple, she said.

Sterling said she is encouraging vendors to offer more pumpkin on their menus and said pumpkin soup and pie will be sold in the food court this year.

The festival is planned for Oct. 18 from noon to 8:30 p.m. in downtown Keene.

The contest is being promoted by USA TODAY and gives voters four weeks to vote for the candidate of their choice at

A person can vote once a day for the run of the contest.

Voting ends Monday, Sept 1, at 11:59 a.m. EDT and the winners will be announced on 10Best on Wednesday, Sept. 3 at 11:59 a.m. EDT, then later on USA TODAY.


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