Oh my gourd!

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Check out the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta festival and get some ideas for your own fall festival.

In a small coastal town near the head of the Damariscotta River in Maine, eager townsfolk line up on Main Street and partake in the annual Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta. This year, the event, which took place on Oct.7-9, drew in nearly 20,000 visitors who enjoyed the parade, the boat races, and the beautifully decorated pumpkins. “Pumpkinfest is a fall harvest festival. It all comes back to agriculture and ‘What can you do with a giant pumpkin?’” says Suzanne Gandy, chair of the public relations committee for the festival. Explore the festival and get some ideas for your own fall festival. And for more information about the event, now in its 15th year and staffed solely by volunteers, visit mainepumpkinfest.com. — Julianne Mobilian
1. & 2. The total weight of this year’s pumpkins, including those used for street art and the regatta boats, was 42,653 pounds — more than 21 tons. The average weight was 540 pounds per pumpkin. This year, Chief Meteorologist at WGME CBS 13 & WPFO FOX 23 Charlie Lopresti won the pumpkin weigh-off, growing a 2,080-pound gourd. Lopresti tweeted that his award-winning pumpkin will be used to make beer for Saco River Brewing in Fryeburg, Maine.
3. & 4. In 2007, Buzz Pinkham, owner of Pinkham’s Plantation, co-founded the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta with his friend and fellow pumpkin-grower Bill Clark. They hollowed out the 700-pound pumpkin he’d grown for the state fair, attached a small outboard motor and sailed successfully around the harbor. In 2008, their friend Tom Lishness joined in on the fun and the trio created two “pumpkinboats” as dozens of onlookers watched from the shores. The boat race went viral, and the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta officially set sail for years to come. For this year’s regatta, Pinkham created an ice fishing house pumpkin boat.
6. to 8. Thousands of Pumpkinfest-goers lined the harbor of the Damariscotta River to watch the regatta racers set sail in their homemade, hollowed-out boats. Since the pumpkins float, volunteers retrieve all of the pumpkin boats after the races.
9. to 13. The event began with a parade down Main Street, which featured music and plenty of pumpkin-themed costumes from attendees — including pets.
14. to 18. Artists found inspiration from various sources and decorated their pumpkins with cute, scary or whimsical themes for this year’s event.