Part of my heart is as soft as dumplings for local festival traditions. Naturally, when I that Keene has been putting on a pumpkin festival for over 20 years, I was into it. This was how the initial conversation went.
“What’s at the pumpkin festival?”
“What’s the reason for having the festival?”
“Ah. Is there anything we should bring?”
I thought I was kinda getting my leg pulled at first, but he was right.
First, there were a lot of pumpkins. Each year, they take another shot at the world record for the most jack-o-lanterns in one spot at the same time. They’ve broken it a couple of times, but I’m not sure who the current record holder is. What’s really important, though, is the reason for this festival.
There really isn’t one.
Sure, there’s food.
And Keene is a pretty cool place to convene.
But, man, there were SO MANY PEOPLE!
Got me thinking about festivals in general. Before, I would always assume that the size of the crowd reflected how worthwhile the event must be. A huge crowd at a band must mean that their music is awesome. A large crowd at a coffee shop must mean that they have chairs that are really good at helping you with sitting down. Seeing the pumpkin fest changed this for me, though.
Don’t get me wrong. It was awesome. I’m not trying to set this up as a “this-thing-was-not-good-but-all-these-people-showed-up-WTF?” kind of rant. It was awesome seeing the pumpkin towers.
Also, it was great to have something to look forward to with friends. Especially when there’s sushi that uses local, wild mushrooms (Shout out to Vendetta in downtown Keene)
It’s actually this second part that makes the whole thing worthwhile. The social aspect of any event, from the World Cup to The Jumping Frog Jubilee of Calavaras County, is a place for people to gather. There’s something about being in the same place with crowds of people while everyone’s focusing on the same thing, even just a little. In this case, Keene had decided that it would give the community the gift of a festival, with little more than some jack-o-lanterns at it’s heart. The healthy community did the rest of the work. I love this process so much! The healthy community responded to a small bit of stimulation and made itself a pearl.