Damariscotta Pumpkinfest – Pumpkinboat Regatta
October 14 @ 12:00 pm
Sponsor: Colby & Gale/Phillips Power Products
The Second Annual Pumpkinboat Regatta, held in 2008, was the topic of an in-depth segment on Discovery Channel’s “Wreckreation Nation”. It was there that the rules were explained as “there are no rules and no fouls, other than that the pumpkin needs to float and needs to go really fast”! Described as the “extreme sport of gardening,” this real-life jack-in-the- beanstalk sport has been seen by over 30,000 fans, including U.S. Senator Susan Collins and WCSH’s Bill Green. Visitors have flocked to Damariscotta since then to watch giant gourds -steered by captains either paddling or powered by “wicked nice motors”- ply the waters of the Damariscotta River.
In 2012, a reporter for the ABC afternoon talk show “The Chew” participated in the Sixth Annual Pumpkinboat Regatta, and the entire Damariscotta Pumpkinfest™ was covered on their October show.
In 2013, “CBS News – Sunday Morning” show featured the regatta in an in-depth segment! The top three winners in the Powerboat Division in 2013 included Christian Rioux, Buzz Pinkham and Tom Lishness, respectively.
In 2018, “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” aired a 90 second “feel good” spot, narrated in rhyme to reflect that year’s “Blessing of the Pumpkinboats”!
“Small Town Big Deal” filmed the entire 2018 festival for its May, 2019 half hour show about Damariscotta Pumpkinfest, highlighting the Pumpkinboat Regatta (as well as the Pumpkin Pie Eating Contest and the Pumpkin Drop).
The Regatta will take place when high tide allows each year. For 2019, that will be at 12:00 noon, with a Free Concert by The Gulch at Water Street from 10:00am-11:30am. Needless to say, those 600# pumpkinboats need HIGH TIDE to be able to float & go really fast!
Commentary by Larry Sidelinger & Don Carrigan & Bobby Ives
There are 2 divisions in the regatta: the “Paddleboat” and the “Powerboat” Divisions. Paddleboat races consist of several heats, with a final overall heat to determine the winner. Depending on participation, there also may be a relay team contest.
The “Newscaster’s Challenge” will be held again in 2019, with competitive relay teams of meteorologists and anchors from different local TV stations paddling in giant pumpkins for the coveted “Golden Gourd” trophy.
In the Powerboat division, the pumpkinboats are actually outfitted with a 5-10 hp outboard motor, resulting in a crowd-pleasing and memorable race. All teams in both divisions will be competing for the coveted “Golden Gourd” trophies.
Yet another exciting regatta event which debuted in 2011, and which MAY be repeated depending on participation, is “Pumpkinboat Polo”! This event consists of a competition where the objective is to retrieve a specific colored ball, using a “smelt net”, from a center corral and place that ball — one at a time — into each of four perimeter rings. The first participant to place all four balls into each of the four perimeter rings wins!
The regatta can be viewed harbor-side, or via a “live feed” into The Lincoln Theater, where spectators are able to watch the event, seated in the warmth and comfort of the historic theater. Lobster Coast Television will also have the regatta on channel 1301 and live streaming at lctv.org.