Crowds Flock to Pumpkin Regatta in Damariscotta, Maine

More exciting than seeing a first place finish may be seeing someone fall in

Gentlemen, start your pumpkins. Only in Maine can you carve out a giant pumpkin, attach a motor to it, climb inside, and race it down the Damariscotta River.

Every Columbus Day weekend, thousands of people flock to midcoast Maine to enjoy the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest and Regatta, including the Pumpkinfest parade, giant pumpkin weighing contest and decorating. But it's the Regatta races that may be the main event.

"This is a time for our community to get together, and it's not really about winning or losing," said Jaja Martin, who has won the Golden Gourd several times.

Martin is a professional sailor, and says piloting a pumpkin boat is a delicate balance.

"These are the worst boats you will ever be in," she laughed. "Mine is 671 pounds. So it's a lot of pumpkin to get going."

The regatta features a pumpkin paddle boat division and a power boat division.

Russell Orms traveled from Austin, Texas to help carve a 1,150 pound pumpkin into a Viking ship called the Plundering Pumpkin. He competed in the power boat division, and won for the first time.

"It's the most fun you can have on the water," he said. "The hydrodynamics are somewhere between a beach ball and rodeo."

More exciting than seeing a first place finish may be seeing someone fall in. The pumpkins easily take on water and sink.

"When I hit the corner, I was getting hit with a wake from another pumpkin, and I was taking on water," said Dale Hartt.

Divers are stationed throughout the race course to help people get out of the overturned pumpkins and swim to shore.

"It was uh, brisk!" said Hartt.

The Pumpkinfest helps local nonprofits raise money and awareness about agriculture. The pumpkin boat competition started as a joke about ten years ago, but has really taken off.

Contact Us