Not since the Hatfields and the McCoys. Not since the Yankees and the Red Sox. Not since gluten versus gluten free has there been such a rivalry brewing.
Of course I am talking about Laconia versus Keene.
Being a resident of Laconia, I have to tiptoe carefully around this subject, not only for my own safety, but for the safety of my loved ones; not to mention my own legacy here in the Lake City.
For those of you who have either been living in a cave (or maybe just doing something constructive) you may have missed the news that has shaken the foundations of tradition to its very core.
The Keene Pumpkin Festival, which has been in that town for twenty-four years, is now about to move to Laconia.
Yes, no need to pinch yourself, you heard me correctly, the Keene Pumpkin Festival will now be in Laconia.
It was decided to move it from Keene after a bunch of college kids went a little too far in their sociology class experiment to see if riots can affect the outcome of events in a community. Those who didn’t go to jail got an A+.
This will be a great boon for business in Laconia and many merchants are excited about it; the merchants in Keene, not so much.
Of course, it won’t be called the Keene Pumpkin Festival because that would make no sense and would confuse people who want to come to the pumpkin festival. Extensive marketing has proven that more people will attend events if they know exactly where it is.
In fact, the name of the event is in question since some in Keene are adamant that it can’t be called the 25th Annual New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival. So adamant, in fact, that one Keene man registered the names “New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival” and “Annual Pumpkin Festival” to keep Laconia from using them. Now the Laconia city fathers and mothers will have to put their collective heads together to come up with a new name so as not to incur any lawsuits. (Maybe something like “The Laconia Pumpkin Festival” or “The Granite State Pumpkin Festival” but that is just an uneducated suggestion from a simple man. I’ll leave the heavy mental lifting to them.)
If that were the end to this tragedy, it might not seem so bad; but there is more to this story of tradition gone wild.
Not only have these names, so familiar to attendees of pumpkin festivals in the past, been eliminated from consideration and sure to cause pure chaos on the highways and byways once the time comes to travel to this yearly tradition, but now a spite pumpkin festival is being planned in Swanzey to further add to the confusion.
As if this isn’t enough to make our pumpkin festival forefathers turn over in their beds, the city of Claremont is jumping on board with their own pumpkin festival the same day as Laconia and the town of Milford is having one a couple of weeks earlier. (Who knows what city or town might be next to jump on the bandwagon. After all, when it comes to festivals celebrating the state fruit, there are no laws…yet.)
The state will now be saturated with pumpkin festivals and this magical time for adults and kids will no longer have that mystical appeal since deciding on which one to attend will now be no more exciting than deciding which number meal you want at the fast food restaurant.
Who will have the best attendance at their pumpkin festival will now have to come down to more than how many pumpkins there are, but what other attractions might be offered to satisfy the public’s needs. As a resident of Laconia I am only suggesting that we will need to go much further than face-painting and balloon tying to bring in the crowds.
There will have to be contests and giveaways (who doesn’t like free stuff) as well as top notch entertainment and maybe a few surprise celebrities (not counting presidential candidates, they’d show up for anything.)
Maybe even get rid of the pumpkins, they’ll just get in the way.
Whatever is decided, you know that there is going to be some tough competition. It’s gonna be a real dogfight and the scars might not ever heal.
Then again, it could just be easier to have the “First Annual Squash Festival.”
Brendan’s new book “The Best Of A F.O.O.L. In New Hampshire” will be published soon. Hear some of the stories at www.foolinnh.com