Group looks to build on Pumpkin Fest success

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Mike Brennick, left, shares the main stage with Kris Howes during the River Valley Pumpkin Fest in Rumford on Oct. 14.

RUMFORD — The sixth annual River Valley Pumpkin Fest was the best yet, but EnvisionRumford met recently to discuss ways to improve the event.

Member Kris Howes, whose company, Gaskill Productions, played a lead role coordinating the event, said, “We had perfect weather, the crowd at night was terrific with fireworks over the canal. We weren’t prepared for such a large turnout.”

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With a crew of 18 people, plus seven or eight volunteers, he noted, “We’re going to need more help.”

Vendors did very well. The Rumford Fire Department had sold out of its homemade french fries, which used 350 pounds of potatoes, by 1 p.m. and had to switch over to making doughboys.

But there were a couple of issues.

The major one was that there was only one port-a-potty available, although Howes had planned for three. Even three port-a-potties would not have been enough.

The committee agreed that there is a need for a public restroom in the downtown, perhaps at the town hall.

They also oversold spaces for vendors, so seven set up behind the main stage on Exchange Street. The problem was that the location did not get much traffic because most people did not venture beyond the stage.

Howes said those seven vendors will get special consideration at next year’s event. He suggested that perhaps the festival can start farther up Congress Street to help with this issue.

There was congestion in front of the main stage, the location of which was due to the issue of power access needed for the public address system and the bands.

Howes said ideally, this area would be used for a food court, adding that more food vendors are needed in the future.

He said using the $3 passes for the first time went very well, noting that 747 were sold for a total of $2,241. As a result, the event turned a profit for the first time.

EnvisionRumford members voted to give 50 percent of the proceeds to Gaskill.

Howes said the dog costume contest will be eliminated next year because too few people cleaned up after their pets.

He said Pumpkin Fest received a late $1,000 donation from Nestle/Poland Spring. Of that, $250 went to pay final expenses and it was agreed to put the remaining $750 toward fireworks for the 2018 event.

The committee extended thanks to Hope Association for the donation of the mums; to McComb’s Farm, which donated the cornstalks; and to Pineland Farms for donating 300 pumpkins.

It was agreed that next year’s Pumpkin Fest will take place the weekend after Columbus Day. However, the location for 2018 may be in the Hosmer Field Athletic Complex because of infrastructure construction in the downtown.

Howes also expressed interest in resurrecting the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Festival. EnvisionRumford Vice President Jennifer Kreckel said organizers need volunteers and to raise $2,000 to start the planning. She said Kreckel Law, P.A., has started the fund with a donation of $150, with the hope it can enlist other financial supporters to get the Lumberjack Fund started.

For more information on the Lumberjack effort, call 364-4593. Pumpkin Fest T-shirts are still available. Go to the EnvisionRumford Facebook page.

bfarrin@sunmediagroup.net

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