Pumpkin Regatta wraps up Damariscotta Pumpkinfest

3:37 PM, Oct 14, 2013   |    comments
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DAMARISCOTTA, Maine (NECN) -- As the name suggests, Pumpkinfest in Damariscotta celebrates all things pumpkin.

During the 10 day event, they weigh them, carve them, eat them, parade them, and even hurl them from a giant catapult.
But the highlight of the festival is the Pumpkin Regatta.

"Are you ready for pumpkin racin'?" shouted the Regatta MC from a boat in Damariscotta Harbor.

The idea of racing giant gourds may seem perplexing to the public, but to these self-professed "pumpkin heads," the leap from raising them to racing them isn't as big as you might think.

"You spend all summer growing the pumpkins," said race particpant Buzz Pinkham. "What are you gonna do? Just let them rot in the lawn?"

"Ready. Set. Get Wet!" called the MC.

The MC cried get wet because pumpkin paddling, it turns out, is not so easy.

"We call this sports entertainment," says Pumpkinfest Director Bill Clark, chuckling. Pumpkin boats are slow and very hard to steer.

In the relay paddle competition. JaJa Martin, who was dressed as a bride, proved to be the ringer for her team.

"We do have a secret," said Martin. "It's in the aerodynamics of the veil."

In the individual paddle races, the true limitations of boating in a misshapen barrel came to light. An outstretched paddle did one racer in, and the second time around, the veil failed Martin.
The bride had to swim to the dock.

It was Tim Smith of Boston, Mass. who brought it home in a contraption that was rigged up by the Maine Maritime Museum.
His proud mom who was screaming his name from the crowd claimed credit.

"I raised him to race pumpkins," she said beaming.

But Smith gave credit where it was due-- to the pumpkins and their growers.

"The secret is actually in selecting the right pumpkin. And finding its center of gravity, said the veteran racer.

And so to the losers, a tip. Grab a few seeds from this year's winner and next year instead of baling from the sidelines, you might go home with a Golden Gourd.


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