Sunday, October 17, 2010

Carving a niche in History!!!!

     Do you like Pumpkins? In New Hampshire there is a very special Halloween event held late in October. It is held in Keene, New Hampshire on one of the quintessential New England Main Streets, adorned with a nostalgic white clapboard church steeple, maple trees set the landscape ablaze with red,orange and gold.  This is an all day event that starts at 10 am and lasts until after 9pm.  Festivities include music, fireworks, food, competitions and of course, the largest number of jack-o'lanterns assembled in one place.  It truly is an awe inspiring event. Everyone, and I mean everyone is invited to bring carved pumpkins, where they are taken and assembled along the street and placed on large scaffolding.
     Thousands flock to this event, and Main Street is host to people dressed in costumes,children trick or treating, a pumpkin pie eating contest, a pumpkin seed spitting contest, food vendors and a Museum of Pumpkin Oddities, assembled especially for the season's most unique and strangest pumpkins. As the sun begins to set, volunteers begin the monumental task of lighting all the pumpkins.  There are an estimated 30,000 pumpkins to light.   Only to be outdone by the crowds of people,  70,000 fans gather together to be mesmerized by the tiny twinkling tea lights. That is more than the estimated 65,000 baseball fans that filled Fenway Stadium during a Red Sox and Yankees brawl.
     The first festival was held in 1991 and only 600 lonely jack-o'lanterns, stared out into the crowd. However, Keene would not be swayed, the following year in 1992 Keene made the Guinness Book of World Records for 1,628 pumpkins lit at one time.  The years we made the Record were: 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2003 that is an impressive 8 World Records.  Sadly, we were outdone by Boston in 2006 with Boston lighting 30,128 jack-o'lanterns.
     This past Saturday, October 16th was Keene's 20th annual Pumpkin Fest and to every one's dismay the last festival.  The company, Center Stage has bowed out of organizing future festivals, which will infinitely impact merchants and businesses in the years to come, not to mention the end of an event that gave the quintessential New England town with its white clapboard church steeple identity.  Being a military brat and never having a town or area that I could call my own, the year that I attended my first festival, I was hooked and enchanted.  However, crowd control was difficult.  I recommend doing it without wee ones...and definitely, don't forget some french fries from the Hinsdale Fire Department's booth, tell Stephanie, Paige sent you. Their fries are hot, homemade, hand cut ,  and on a cold fall evening, nothing is better than sharing hot fries and ketchup, sipping apple cider and watching the fireworks with someone you "Heart".

Spicy "Hellfire" roasted pumpkin seeds

Extract seeds from pumpkin
Separate the pulp from seeds and wash the seeds thoroughly in warm water
Put seeds in a bowl and add 1/4 cup salt and 6 cups water, let soak overnight
In the morning, drain the seeds and lay out to dry on paper towels
In a bowl combine, 1/4 cup melted butter
                                 1/2 tsp Tabasco brand Chipotle sauce
                                 1 tsp cayenne pepper
                                 1 tsp red pepper flakes
                                 1 tsp Chipotle powder
                                 1/4 tsp or less Tabasco brand Habanero sauce
                                 1/2 tsp ground cumin
                                 1 tablespoon dark chili powder
                                 salt to taste
Place pumpkin seeds in a bowl, combine the melted butter and Tabasco sauces, and drizzle over the seeds and mix well. Combine all spices and sprinkle over seeds and again mix well, tossing to coat seeds evenly. Bake at 300F for 35 to 45 minutes until golden brown and crispy, halfway through you want to stir the seeds through the baking process, for even toasting.

A diet is the penalty we pay for exceeding the feed limit.~Author Unknown.


Dominique said...

This post made me :)

Anonymous said...

Did you post this on's page? I am sure they would love it! We didn't make it this year :( I love the smell in the air when all the pumpkins are burning away..

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