Keene Pumpkin Festival Sets a New Guinness World Record for Jack-o-Lanterns

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    Community Spirit

    Keene Pumpkin Festival
    ••• Keene Pumpkin Festival Sets a New Guinness World Record in 2013 The Keene Pumpkin Festival is a community-centered event that not only supports local organizations and businesses but attracts global attention. © 2013 Kim Knox Beckius

    Boston's 7-Year-Old Record Falls on a Perfect Night in Keene, NH

    Video: Watch as the Guinness World Record announcement is made!

    I crossed setting a Guinness World Record off my bucket list on October 19, 2013, and so did my daughter at the tender age of 10! Of course, we had a bit of help. We carved only two of the 30,851 pumpkins that enabled Keene, New Hampshire, to reclaim the title of Jack-o-lantern Capital of the World. As you'll see in these pictures, it was a mind-boggling achievement to amass these grinning, glowing, one-of-a-kind gourds along Main Street and to keep them lit during the 5-minute period when a Guinness adjudicator-led team certified the count. An hour later, we inhaled the scent of warmed pumpkin and held our breath as Mayor Kendall Lane revealed the record-smashing total: a number more than 31% greater than the entire population of Keene!

    The vibrant little city is no stranger to jack-o-lantern glory. Keene set its first world record for the most...MORE intentionally carved, lit pumpkins in one place at one time with just 1,628 jack-o-lanterns during the second annual Keene Pumpkin Festival in 1992. Over the next decade, the Keene Pumpkin Festival raised the bar repeatedly, setting an eighth Guinness World Record in 2003 with 28,952 jack-o-lanterns. Then came a 10-year drought.

    What happened? Keene relinquished its place atop the pumpkin heap to New England rival Boston, which hosted its one and only attempt to set a world record in 2006. The 30,128 jack-o-lanterns compiled on Boston Common stood as the untouchable record for years. Keene tried annually but fell short.

    In 2013, bolstered by the colossal donation of 20,000 pumpkins by C&S Wholesale Grocers, the Keene Pumpkin Festival took serious measures to reestablish its pumpkin preeminence. We were so impressed by organizers' efforts to meet Guinness's stringent rules. And we'll never forget how we shouted and celebrated with the crowd when the new record was announced. Ruth Sterling, who owns the festival's management company, STERLING Design & Communications, said the magic of that moment was like taking the "best feeling in the world and multiplying it by 30,581."

    Your next chance to feel on top of the world by taking a knife to a pumpkin comes October 18, 2014 at the 24th annual Keene Pumpkin Festival.

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  • 02 of 16

    Every Pumpkin Counts

    Every Pumpkin Counts at Keene Pumpkin Festival
    ••• Keene Pumpkin Festival Sets a New Guinness World Record in 2013 My daughter was proud of our two contributions to the record-setting total number of jack-o-lanterns at the 2013 Keene Pumpkin Festival, especially the pumpkin on which we traced her hands. © 2013 Kim Knox Beckius

    Find instructions for tracing your child's hands to create an "Oh, No!" pumpkin in my collection of free Pumpkin Carving Patterns.

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    Finding a Spot in a Sea of Orange

    Keene Pumpkin Festival Pumpkins Photo
    ••• Keene Pumpkin Festival Sets a New Guinness World Record in 2013 When we arrived in Keene, New Hampshire, around 1 p.m. on Pumpkin Fest day and logged in our pumpkins, it was already tough to find spots for them on the Main Street displays. © 2013 Kim Knox Beckius
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    A Massive Volunteer Effort

    Keene Pumpkin Festival Volunteers - Massive Effort Sets World Record
    ••• Keene Pumpkin Festival Sets a New Guinness World Record in 2013 Keene Pumpkin Festival volunteers went to incredible lengths in 2013 to ensure pumpkins were in position in time for the official Guinness World Record count. © 2013 Kim Knox Beckius
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    Headless and Pumpkinhead Men

    Headless and Pumpkinhead Men
    ••• Keene Pumpkin Festival Sets a New Guinness World Record in 2013 The people-watching was almost as much fun as the pumpkin-watching at the 2013 Keene Pumpkin Festival, which attracted a colorful assortment of characters like the Headless Horseman and these pumpkinhead men. © 2013 Kim Knox Beckius
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  • 06 of 16

    Tower of Pumpkin Power

    Keene Pumpkin Festival Tower
    ••• Keene Pumpkin Festival Sets a New Guinness World Record in 2013 I'd seen photos of the Keene Pumpkin Festival tower from previous years, but they failed to prepare me for the enormity of this structure: the festival's centerpiece. © 2013 Kim Knox Beckius
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  • 07 of 16

    Do the Math

    Keene Pumpkin Festival Pumpkin Display
    ••• Keene Pumpkin Festival Sets a New Guinness World Record in 2013 What you're seeing here behind the alien is a display of about 75-100 jack-o-lanterns. Now, multiply that in your mind more than 300 times for a sense of how many pumpkins were assembled. © 2013 Kim Knox Beckius
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  • 08 of 16

    As Far as the Eye Can See

    Keene Pumpkin Festival Picture - World Record Total of Pumpkins
    ••• Keene Pumpkin Festival Sets a New Guinness World Record in 2013 Pumpkins stretched out in every direction along Main Street in Keene, New Hampshire. And the creativity on display was nothing short of amazing. © 2013 Kim Knox Beckius
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  • 09 of 16

    Simple, Yet Ingenius

    Simple Yet Creative Pumpkin Carvings at Keene Pumpkin Festival
    ••• Keene Pumpkin Festival Sets a New Guinness World Record in 2013 I found ideas for unique pumpkin carvings everywhere I looked. Even some of the simplest pumpkins oozed originality... like the jack-o-lantern with onion eyeballs and a banana gourd tongue. © 2013 Kim Knox Beckius
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    Pumpkin Bowling

    Pumpkin Bowling
    ••• Keene Pumpkin Festival Sets a New Guinness World Record in 2013 The 2013 Keene Pumpkin Festival featured other fun activities including Pumpkin Bowling. My daughter rolled a strike with her first pumpkin! We're stealing this idea for her October birthday party. © 2013 Kim Knox Beckius
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  • 11 of 16

    Lighting Time

    Twilight Jack-o-Lanterns at the Keene Pumpkin Festival
    ••• Keene Pumpkin Festival Sets a New Guinness World Record in 2013 The lighting of the pumpkins began at 4 p.m., creating a magical scene at twilight. It was critical to keep pumpkins lit during the official count at 6:50 p.m. Any jack-o-lantern that had gone dark was subtracted from the total. © 2013 Kim Knox Beckius
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    Keene Pumpkin Festival Tower at Night

    Keene Pumpkin Festival Tower at Night
    ••• Keene Pumpkin Festival Sets a New Guinness World Record in 2013 With its hundreds of pumpkins illuminated at night, the Keene Pumpkin Festival's grand tower is truly a jaw-dropping sight. Companies and individuals were able to reserve tower space free, but donations were gratefully accepted. © 2013 Kim Knox Beckius
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    Pumpkin Resuscitation

    Keene Pumpkin Festival Lighting of Pumpkins
    ••• Keene Pumpkin Festival Sets a New Guinness World Record in 2013 Because each jack-o-lantern had to remain lit for it to count toward a new Guinness World Record, the crowd had to be vigilant. My husband resuscitated several burned-out pumpkins as the official count time approached. © 2013 Kim Knox Beckius
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    Gleaming Grins

    Pumpkins at Night - Keene Pumpkin Festival in Keene NH
    ••• When I took this photo, we did not yet know if Keene, NH, would indeed achieve a new Guinness World Record for lit jack-o-lanterns in one place. BUT, thousands of gleaming gourds were grinning in anticipation of good news anyway!. © 2013 Kim Knox Beckius
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    A Pumpkin World Record

    Keene Pumpkin Festival Guinness World Record 2013
    ••• Keene Pumpkin Festival Sets a New Guinness World Record in 2013 We did it! After overhearing two men postulating that the number of pumpkins was down from last year, I had my doubts, but when Mayor Kendall Lane announced the total--30.581--the crowd went wild. They knew instantly Keene had finally bested Boston. © 2013 Kim Knox Beckius
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    Souvenirs of a Memorable Night

    Keene Pumpkin Festival Souvenirs of a Memorable Night
    ••• Keene Pumpkin Festival Sets a New Guinness World Record in 2013 There were plenty of Keene Pumpkin Festival mementos for sale at Pumpkin Shops throughout the festival, but the best souvenirs were are own carved pumpkins, which we brought home world champions. My mother-in-law has proudly adopted the cat pumpkin and can't wait to tell her book club. © 2013 Kim Knox Beckius