How’d they do that?
We didn't know if it was more fun looking at artists' pumpkins at Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta, or looking at all the people streaming and stopping around them, capturing them with their phones and standard cameras. People were taking pictures of people taking pictures.
And everyone we saw looked truly happy to be there.
The crowds, including plenty of out-of-staters, according to license plates, were probably helped by the perfect fall weather, but to get that many people in one place, coming and going for several days in Maine in October, Pumpkinfest and the town must both be doing something very right.
Among the pumpkins and the many events celebrating them, were surely some lessons for other area towns, maybe for Wiscasset, whose Wings Over Wiscasset was a new annual event that made it two years. But are those lessons simply about how to put on a good show with sights that are well worth the time and the gas?
Or is the secret as much about parking and other infrastructure? Wiscasset has enough or nearly enough restaurants and food stands to handle a Pumpkinfest-sized crowd. The parking would have to be spread out and involve a lot of shuttling of attendees. But shuttles are part of most any festival, and were part of Wings Over Wiscasset.
Pumpkinfest appears to be thriving in part where Wings admittedly failed: on securing the level of sponsorship a big event takes. We counted just over 140, mostly private sponsors on the Pumpkinfest website at www.damariscottapumpkinfest.com.
So what does the Damariscotta business climate have to inspire that investment that Wiscasset’s doesn't?
Do a comparison study, if needed. Better yet, sit down with Damariscotta and its Pumpkinfest allies. If they are in the great mood they should be in right now, they'd probably be happy to talk.