Pumpkin foolishness in Damariscotta

Posted Oct. 13, 2011, at 8:57 p.m.
Katharina Keoughan, the self-proclaimed Queen of Pumpkins, curtsies to the crowd during the Giant Pumpkin Parade at the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest.
Katharina Keoughan, the self-proclaimed Queen of Pumpkins, curtsies to the crowd during the Giant Pumpkin Parade at the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest.
Participants paddle giant pumpkins during the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest and Regatta.
Participants paddle giant pumpkins during the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest and Regatta.
A Humpty Dumpty pumpkin appears to have fallen onto a downtown sidewalk at the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest.
A Humpty Dumpty pumpkin appears to have fallen onto a downtown sidewalk at the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest.
University of Maine graduate students Jen McHenry, 23, of New Harbor, left, and Marissa McMahan of Georgetown, pose with a pumpkin they carved underwater at Damariscotta Pumpkinfest.
University of Maine graduate students Jen McHenry, 23, of New Harbor, left, and Marissa McMahan of Georgetown, pose with a pumpkin they carved underwater at Damariscotta Pumpkinfest.
Tom Lishness motors around the race course during the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest and Regatta, an event that drew several hundred spectators.
Tom Lishness motors around the race course during the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest and Regatta, an event that drew several hundred spectators.
The race is on in the pumpkin derby during the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest. There were just two rules: pumpkins had to weigh less than 20 pounds and the axles had to go through the pumpkins. The event featured many crowd-thrilling crashes.
The race is on in the pumpkin derby during the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest. There were just two rules: pumpkins had to weigh less than 20 pounds and the axles had to go through the pumpkins. The event featured many crowd-thrilling crashes.
Bud Elwin, 72, of Walpole, does his Ted Williams pose next to a giant painted pumpkin at the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest. Elwin was raffling off baseball memorabilia to raise money for the Healthy Kids program.
Bud Elwin, 72, of Walpole, does his Ted Williams pose next to a giant painted pumpkin at the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest. Elwin was raffling off baseball memorabilia to raise money for the Healthy Kids program.
Ja Ja Martin of Bremen lets out a yell as the pumpkin she was paddling sinks into the chilly water during the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest and Regatta.
Ja Ja Martin of Bremen lets out a yell as the pumpkin she was paddling sinks into the chilly water during the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest and Regatta.
A giant painted pumpkin appears ready to chomp down on a smaller pumpkin the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest. Dozens of highly decorated pumpkins were on display throughout downtown.
A giant painted pumpkin appears ready to chomp down on a smaller pumpkin the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest. Dozens of highly decorated pumpkins were on display throughout downtown.

DAMARISCOTTA, Maine — Buzz Pinkham, one of the founders of the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest and Regatta, is crouched inside a giant pumpkin, getting ready to shove off from a dock when a reporter asks him to describe the festival.

“There’s no science behind it, just complete foolishness. And then we just built the whole weekend around foolishness,” said Pinkham, owner of a local garden center.

The festival germinated out of a conversation between two friends about growing giant pumpkins and has grown into a fun-loving, 10-day celebration of all things pumpkin. The events include everything from underwater pumpkin carving to pumpkin smashing. This year a pumpkin derby, similar to the pinewood derbies held by Cub Scouts, was added to the mix.

“We’re shooting pumpkins, we drop a 1,000-pound pumpkin from a 200-foot crane on a couple of cars, and put outboard motors on a pumpkin. I mean, a 15-horsepower motor on a pumpkin? When you got up this morning you didn’t think you were going to see that, did you?”

Pinkham estimates that 15,000 people attended this year’s festival, which ended on Columbus Day.

“We just put some foolishness out there and everybody came to watch,” said Pinkham. Then he revs up his outboard and motors away in a floating pumpkin.

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