Another rainy regatta couldn’t keep the crowds away from the 2017 Damariscotta Pumpkinfest and Regatta. The event, celebrating its 11th year drawing thousands to the Twin Villages on Columbus Day weekend, was another success, according to co-founder Bill Clark.
For organizers and volunteers, preparations for the event began last year, but the official event didn’t get underway for the public until the weekend of Sept. 30 to Oct. 1, when amateur and professional growers transported their giant fruits to Pinkham’s Plantation in Damariscotta for the weigh-offs.
The professional grower weigh-off, sanctioned by the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth, saw two major accomplishments. The top 10 finishers in the adult giant pumpkin division produced pumpkins weighing more than 1,000 pounds, and the heaviest pumpkin broke the state record. Elroy Morgan, of Charleston, grew a 1,756-pound fruit, squashing the 2015 record set by Edwin Pierpont by 28.5 pounds.
The giant pumpkin deployment, during which the pumpkins are delivered to locations throughout Damariscotta and Newcastle, took place Thursday, Oct. 5. The following day, carvers and painters of all ages took to the streets to decorate the pumpkins for the festival. The pumpkins will remain on display for the upcoming week.
The Giant Pumpkin Parade, one of the festival’s marquee events, featured musical performances, two teams of unicyclists, dancers, and floats from local businesses and Pumpkinfest sponsors.
Downtown Damariscotta offered local food vendors and a Kids Zone with activities for all ages. Due to rain on both Sunday, Oct. 8, and Monday, Oct. 9, the Kids Zone closed for safety concerns.
However, the rain could not stop the pumpkin slingshots and catapult, nor the giant pumpkin drop, all of which took place at the Damariscotta River Association’s Round Top Farm. Thousands watched as a crane dropped giant pumpkins from over 100 feet onto two cars and into a swimming pool.
After taking place on Sunday last year, the Regatta returned to its traditional start time of noon Monday. Crowds watched the event from Riverside Park or live on Lincoln County Television or at Lincoln Theater as paddleboats and motorboats made from giant pumpkins raced around Damariscotta Harbor during a downpour.
Clark praised the efforts of the hundreds of volunteers, including a “core group that puts in countless hours all year,” who make Pumpkinfest a success.
“We really try hard to put on this event for the community and make it fun for everyone,” Clark said.