Keene Pumpkin Festival approval to be reconsidered

Union Leader Correspondent
September 10. 2017 9:42PM
A scaled-down, child-focused pumpkin festival was set to take place in Keene on Oct. 29, but now the proposal is being reconsidered. (Meghan Pierce/Union Leader Correspondent file photo)

KEENE — The City Council voted unanimously Thursday night to send the proposed scaled-down Pumpkin Festival back to the Planning, Licenses and Development Committee due to internet chatter about the return of the festival.

Ward 1 Councilor Janis O. Manwaring raised the issue at the council’s Thursday night meeting, saying city councilors had received memos that day from Keene State College Interim President Melinda Treadwell, Police Chief Steven Russo and Fire Chief Mark Howard about reconsidering moving forward with the festival.

Keene Mayor Kendall Lane said the reconsideration would take place at the committee’s next meeting at which they could meet with Treadwell, Russo and Howard to discuss the issue. Lane said there would be time before Oct. 29 — the date chosen for the proposed festival — for the issue to return to the City Council for approval, following the committee meeting.

Let It Shine Inc., the nonprofit that hosts the festival, is responsible for the city police, fire and public works costs associated with the festival — estimated at $14,000. The group had just updated its fundraising goals online Thursday evening before the decision was made to place the festival back in the hands of the commitee.

Its goal is to raise $28,450 to cover the festival costs, which include pumpkins for 3,400 children in addition to the police, fire and DPW service costs. As of Thursday, Let It Shine had raised $20,459.44 toward that goal.

“Let It Shine is reviewing all the latest developments and we will be in touch with all of our beautiful supporters soon. Thank you for your support in our efforts to provide a festival of healing and celebration,” the group posted on Facebook on Friday.

The Keene Pumpkin Festival began as a small harvest festival in 1991.

Over the years the weekend festival made Keene a party mecca for college students and other young adults from across New England.

Then in 2014, during the 24th annual Keene Pumpkin Festival, riots broke out in a neighborhood outside of the festival footprint.

When Let It Shine returned the following spring for approval for the 25th Annual Keene Pumpkin Festival in 2015, city councilors denied the permit.

Tim Zinn of Let It Shine proposed the scaled-down, child-focused festival as a way to bring the event back to the city for families and as a way of healing.

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