The Pumpkin Fest previously held the record (as recognized by the Guinness World Records) of 28,952  set at this celebration on October 25, 2003, but this was broken when Boston, Massachusetts collected 30,128 on October 21, 2006. At first it was believed that Boston did not have an official count, merely a sign in for each pumpkin. But it was later determined that each pumpkin was indeed registered and counted, causing Guinness to confirm the record in a certificate issued to Camp Sunshine, the event beneficiary and organizer of the festival. Camp Sunshine is a national non-profit retreat for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.
The organizers attempt yearly to beat this record by encouraging businesses and individuals to create and donate jack-o'-lanterns which are displayed on many enormous banks of shelves and all available surfaces around the center of town.
The festivities also include fireworks, music, and food, and draw in people from all over New Hampshire and adjoining states.
Almost immediately after the pumpkin festival is over, the jack-o-lanterns are hauled away by volunteer work crews and given to pig farmers.
Over 80,000 people attended this event in 2006 in Keene, which has a population of nearly 23,000. People do not come from just the surrounding states, but all over the country and sometimes all over the world.
The 2006 festival was held on October 21st and boasted over 24,000 lit pumpkins.
The Pumpkin Festival of 2007 was held on Saturday, October 20.
There has been some controversy in the Pumpkin Fest since last year's massing of over 80,000 people in one night, but less than 25,000 pumpkins were brought. Some people think that the festival has lost sight of its original meaning of bringing the local community together during harvest. Instead, many locals think it has become a circus fest while much of the people coming are from out of state. It is common to see many locals dodging the Fest. Indeed it is also quite common to notice that many of these locals are heavily under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs nearly every year at this time, especially those of their traditional, conservative nature. It has apparently irritated many of them because of the massive number of people congregating in the downtown area. Many restaurants become jammed, hotels booked and traffic and, according to some, getting around becomes an absolute nightmare.
However, those who have been to the recently competing "Life Is Good" pumpkin festival in Boston will deduce that in comparison, the Keene festival is not that overly crowded at all. Someone having recently attended both would say that Keene traffic (both vehicular and pedestrian) is really not bad. If you can't deal with the relatively mild congestion at the Keene festival, we would certainly not recommend that you attempt the Boston one.