March 4, 2010

No hollow victories at Damariscotta Pumpkinfest



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Staff photo by Andy Molloy THE GOURDS: Competitors stroke from the docks at the start of the pumpkin paddle boat race Sunday in Damariscotta harbor. The carved out gourds were paddled to a buoy and back.

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Staff photo by Andy Molloy THE GOURDS: A competitor in the Damariscotta pumpkin race paddles past a tour bout Sunday while heading into the harbor on the first leg of the race.

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Kennebec Journal

DAMARISCOTTA — Gentlemen, start your ... pumpkins?

Sail and race boats were replaced by a different kind of watercraft in Damariscotta Harbor on Sunday.

Hundreds of people crowded along the shoreline for the pumpkin boat races, the pinnacle of Damariscotta's annual Pumpkinfest.

''I think (the races) say something about the people in Damariscotta and the area,'' said Juanita Dugdale of neighboring Round Pond.

''Frankly, I think we need more events like this in Damariscotta.''

There were several heats of paddleboat races, as boaters tried to fight a strong autumn wind ripping across the harbor to cross the finish line.

Each ''boat'' weighed several hundred pounds; some of the pumpkins were between 500 and 600 pounds.

''It does take a good while to hollow out each pumpkin,'' said competitor Pete Geiger of Lewiston. ''It took us about three or four days to clear out this pumpkin.''

Geiger won the first heat of pumpkin paddleboat races in a 525-pound pumpkin decorated to resemble a NASA space shuttle.

He was dressed in a light blue astronaut jumpsuit with a Navy cap to match his vessel.

''None of the pumpkins had a theme, so I thought we needed one,'' Geiger said.

The paddleboat races were followed by pumpkin motorboat races. Most of the boats had fixtures on the front or back of the pumpkin to mount the motor, with the pumpkin in the middle for a seat.

The Pumpkinfest, which lasts just over a week, makes Damariscotta stand out, Dugdale said.

''In what other village would you see a whole town turn out to watch people race boats?'' Dugdale said.

''It's a green sport and just fun to watch.''

The third annual Pumpkinfest ends today with a pumpkin drop.

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Additional Photos

Robert Clifford
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Robert Clifford


Buzz Pinkham
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Buzz Pinkham



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