October 19, 2019: Giant Pumpkin Boats and The New Hampshire Chain Saw Massacre

In a place like New England, you really have to differentiate your pumpkin festival. They’re just everywhere up here. To the point that I only get to visit some festivals every few years or so. I mean, even throwing a “giant pumpkin” festival isn’t enough. I almost accidentally see more giant pumpkins than I do on purpose.

But you won’t find many pumpkin festivals where the attendees hollow out their giant pumpkins, jump into them, and then paddle them down a river. [Jack Skellington voice} And they call it the Goffstown Pumpkin Regatta.

It’s part of the Goffstown Pumpkin Festival, which I visited back in 2012. The party was close to how I remembered it—a small town whose main street is overtaken by tented vendors and giant pumpkins and people slingshotting apples to hit ghost- and jack-o-lantern-shaped targets floating out in the river.

The pumpkin that won this year’s weigh-off was 2,158 pounds, a whopper of a pumpkin, although I’m not sure if that number gets it into the top ten worldwide. However, it did have a unique cleft in it that made it look like a giant bean bag, and most people were sitting in that cleft to get their photo taken.

Of course, the main event is the Pumpkin Regatta. I missed it last time I was there, and I missed it this time, and I’ll probably always miss it because it’s always on Sunday, and I’m less adventurous on Sundays. However, we did get to stand there and watch them turn those massive gourds or fruits or whatever into boats or ships or whatever. And we weren’t the only ones. Atlas Obscura was there taping a piece on these pumpkin pontoons.

The shipwrights/pumpkin carvers took a template that looked like an oversized toilet seat, placed it on the flat side of the giant pumpkin (every giant pumpkin has a flat side where gravity smashes it into the ground) and hollowed out the pumpkin using the template as a guide to make a person-sized hole in it.

Later they’ll decorate them, put on costumes, jump in, and launch them into the river with only a paddle to get them where they’re going, but proving once again what the dominate vegetable on the planet is. Or fruit or gourd or whatever.

Back home, I prepared for The New Hampshire Chain Saw Massacre. But I’m happy to report that not only was no blood shed, the bat box was empty of flat bats, and I even got a little crazy and chainsawed another fallen tree at the edge of my property that had been there for a while.

Basically, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has been reinterpreted for me from a horror movie to the moving, gleeful story of a man and his chainsaw. A romance, maybe.