The Art of the Great Pumpkin

Posted Wednesday, October 19, 2011 in Features

The Art of the Great Pumpkin

by Steve Cartwright

Back in 2007, nurseryman Buzz Pinkham of Damariscotta thought it would be cool to try floating a monster pumpkin in the nearby river.

His “boat” floated, and that initial experiment has grown into a sizable event, both in terms of pumpkins and crowds. The Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta was held Oct. 1-10 this year in this touristy town of high-end shops, pubs and quaint brick buildings.

Besides the mock regatta, where hollowed-out pumpkin boats buzz about with trolling motors or paddles or sails, there is the Main Street display of painted, carved and otherwise modified pumpkins, all in the humongous more-than-you-could-lift category.

Not your garden-variety pumpkins, these gargantuan squashes can tip the scales at a whopping 1,000 pounds or even more. Buzz, proprietor of Pinkham’s Plantation, said you can grow a giant pumpkin on natural fertilizer and a bed of sand, which lessens friction as the squash expands. It all starts with a seed planted in April and set out by May. In 10 days a pumpkin can reach a 30-inch circumference; in 30 days it can bulk up to 450 pounds. Buzz has seen a pumpkin gain 35 pounds in a day.

Various artists of various ages carved and painted the pumpkins that for a short time will grace downtown Damariscotta. In most cases the pumpkins have a commercial aspect, representing or being sponsored by a local business. The festival, clearly, is good for business, as hundreds of visitors over the Columbus Day weekend converged on this small river town, also known for an oyster festival, and home to artists, actors, musicians, poets and political activists.


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