Little scarecrow

Tess Kiritsy

Joshua Aria, 3, makes for a spooky scarecrow at last year’s Monadnock Pumpkin Festival at the Cheshire Fairgrounds in North Swanzey.

NORTH SWANZEY — Food and beer lovers have something new to look forward to at the fifth annual Monadnock Pumpkin Festival.

Slated for Oct. 12 at the Cheshire Fairgrounds, the festival will be adding a food truck “roundup” and craft beer tent, according to organizer Jennifer Matthews of Westmoreland.

“We have area food trucks coming to supply amazing menus of food,” she said, noting the event will still have traditional concession stands, too.

The festival kicks off Thursday evening with a free community carve night at the Cheshire Fairgrounds’ old ice arena. Families can bring carving tools from 4 to 7 p.m. and make jack-o’-lanterns from pumpkins available onsite to be displayed at the festival and area schools, Matthews said.

“It’s one of our favorite things about the festival,” she said. “It’s been growing every year. People look forward to it.”

The rest of the festivities are scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 12, from 1 to 8 p.m., also at the fairgrounds on Monadnock Highway (Route 12).

Matthews owns Memorable Events LLC in Keene, an event-planning company that produces the Monadnock Pumpkin Festival.

She launched the festival in 2015, the same year Keene city councilors denied a permit for Let It Shine to host its annual pumpkin festival on Main Street. That decision came after riots erupted during the 2014 festival in Keene, though they were outside the event’s footprint.

In the absence of a pumpkin-related celebration in the region, Matthews collaborated with several area nonprofit groups and pulled together the Monadnock Pumpkin Festival, which has continued annually since.

A smaller version of the Keene Pumpkin Festival was restored in 2017. This year’s festival is slated for Oct. 27 in downtown Keene from 1 to 7 p.m.

Matthews said aside from carving, the Monadnock Pumpkin Festival will offer hayrides and pony rides, amusement rides, a children’s activity tent and a fireworks show to cap off the night. Local bands will also perform throughout the day, she said.

The Fright Fest haunted barn, a baking contest and a craft fair are also planned, she said.

All activities, except food, are covered by the admission ticket, available only at the door. Admission is $5 for children from 6 to 12 and $10 for everyone 13 and older. Children 5 and under get in free.

Free parking will also be offered again this year, with handicap spaces available, she said.

For more information, visit www.monadnockpumpkinfestival.org.

This article has been amended to correct the year the Keene Pumpkin Festival was revived.

Olivia Belanger can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1439, or obelanger@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @OBelangerKS.