Future of Keene, New Hampshire, Pumpkin Festival Discussed by Residents - NECN
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Future of Keene, New Hampshire, Pumpkin Festival Discussed by Residents

Keene residents say change is needed before next year's Pumpkin Festival



    Future of Keene Pumpkin Festival Discussed by Residents

    The city of Keene, New Hampshire, held a public forum in the wake of the riots that left many injured and arrested. (Published Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014)

    The future of a New Hampshire pumpkin festival that was the center of riots in October was up for discussion in a public forum Tuesday night, where many said that rioters were attracted to the event and that change is needed.

    "What happened at Pumpkin Fest isn't exactly a Keene problem. This is a global problem," Keene State student Nick Tornatore said.

    Tainted and tarnished amid violence and destruction of property and injuries, more than 100 have been arrested in the aftermath of the October 18 riots, many of them unaffiliated with Keene State College, though 170 Keene State students have been disciplined by the school administration and several expelled.

    These are not just a few bad apples, according to residents.

    "I had to spend four and half hours on that particular evening, standing on my front porch guarding my property from people who were intoxicated," Keene resident Bob Lyle said. "I can tell you right now that the Pumpkin Festival this year was not an isolated incident."

    But these lasting images of the Keene Pumpkin Festival is not the image campus and city leaders want associated with the family friendly event that's been here since 1991.

    They held a public forum on campus to discuss what's next for the annual fall festival and if it should continue.

    "We need to send a powerful message that we will not tolerate these kinds of behaviors and we need to end the Pumpkin Festival now," said mother of three, Keene resident Beth Truman.

    "There is no way that we should do away (with) or remove the Pumpkin Festival in Keene. That's a landmark in Keene and has been for some odd years," Keene resident Morris Whitney said.

    "To me this is about binge drinking and how it gets carried away," New Hampshire state Rep. Larry Phillips of Keene said.

    "They came here to party. Give them a place to party. Whether it be Keene State College athletic field, wherever, where they are away from city residents," Harry Boynton, who works in Keene, said.

    To turn it around, for some, there will have to be an emphasis on repairing the fractured town and gown relationship.

    "I don't blame the Pumpkin Festival for the violence that took place. However, I do think that the Pumpkin Festival has achieved the status of attractive nuisance," Keene resident John DiBernardo said.

    No final decision was made Tuesday night. College President Anne Huot says it will likely be made in the coming months.

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