LACONIA — It will be another year before the Smile of the Great Pumpkin will be seen in downtown Laconia.
The N.H. Pumpkin Festival has been postponed to October 2022, according to Karmen Gifford, president of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, the organizer of the event.
While there was hope that the two-day event could take place this year, “There is a tremendous amount of planning that goes into this festival, including securing fundraising and volunteers,” Gifford said this week.
Last year’s festival was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gifford said although the area is starting to come out of the COVID crisis in many ways, there are still considerable residual concerns that are causing people to be apprehensive about getting involved right now in a large-scale event.
“People are leery. They are not volunteering,” Gifford said. She said that many local employers are still having employees work remotely and so are not getting involved in in-person community projects.
The uncertainty about getting attractions such as rides or lining up vendors made the prospect of putting on a successful event increasingly difficult.
“There are a lot of moving parts. We didn’t want to get to August and then see we wouldn’t be able to pull it off,” Gifford said about deciding now to postpone the event.
“The event needs to come back strong,” she said. “We are using this additional time to plan for a bigger festival with more events and opportunities to celebrate fall in New Hampshire.”
Gifford said area businesses are already expressing an interest in getting involved in the 2022 event.
Although the festival has been postponed, the Runaway Pumpkin road race will be taking place on Saturday, Oct. 16. The event raises funds for the WOW Trail.
The festival moved from Keene to Laconia in 2015. In 2016, the Lakes Region Chamber became the official organizer and expanded it from a one-day event to a two-day event, adding more entertainment and amusement rides, and creating a family-friendly street festival atmosphere.