Not too long ago, we brought you a fun story on the New London Pumpkin People, who create all manner of pumpkin-centered displays. Well the good folks in New London are not alone in their autumn spirit; the Plainfield Pumpkin People have also built quite a reputation for themselves. One of the organizers, John Austin of Plainfield told YCN News that the idea started out as a group of 3 friends in 2012 wanting some sort of fall display. Three years later, with the help of advertising and getting the word out, up to 15% of the town now participates in the annual tradition and have since received much attention from the media, including statewide television stations. Austin says that with their Facebook page, they are being followed throughout the US, but also in Canada, the Netherlands, and Denmark. Now do keep in mind, we’ve only shown a small amount of the pumpkin creations in the entire town of Plainfield. The best way to see them all? Take a trip over to Plainfield during the Halloween weekend and see for yourself.
Full Interview from John Austin:
Joyce Lundrigan:” It all started with our neighbor John… who with an infectious enthusiasm, recruited a couple of willing neighbors… and the rest is history”
Linda Buzzell: “I think it was entirely your idea (John) but Joyce and I thought it was great. Then we started planning accordingly.”
So in 2013 I (John) decided that we should involve more people. I made a flyer and drove up and down Route 120 and the side roads stuffing mail boxes and paper tubes. Then I contacted Plainfacts and asked if I could place an ad. That year we had about 190 Pumpkin People. Soon after, the Eagle Times did an article on the project. WCAX TV happened to be driving by and found the Pumpkin People and wanted to do a news show on us. Later on a travel blogger stumbled on us. At that point I set pen to paper and wrote the Upper Valley Life andYankee magazines. But it was too late for that year. But I started the Facebook page for the Plainfieldpumpkinpeople. At the end I made a YouTube video to share all the hard work.
2014, I got busy early. I contacted Plainfacts and ran the ad again along with stuffing the mail boxes and paper tubes on Routes 120 to 12A and most the side roads. There was one complaint from the prior year: we need maps. So I contacted 5 local businesses (Meriden Deli, Edgewater Farms, Garfield Smokehouse, Annie’s’ Country Store and Aidron Duckworth Museum) and asked them if they would help. A date was picked during leaf peeping season and they handed out the maps, problem addressed. Also I submitted press releases to local radio stations and WMUR TV. To my surprise I got a very positive response. Then Upper Valley Life magazine contacted me and published an article. The Eagle Times ran a spread of 101 things to do in the fall and we were picked as #11. Later on they also did an article on the 2014 Pumpkin People.
It has not been what I have done, but what the town’s people have done that made it all happen. The only goal was to have fun. There are no rules, contests or even guidelines. By taking away all structure, the creativity of our residents has exploded. I have a friend who told me that just driving through Plainfield makes her smile. Goal achieved. With the Facebook page, we are now are being followed throughout the US, but also in the Netherlands, Canada, and Denmark. In 2014 one week there were over 5000 hits on the Pumpkin People alone.
In 2015 15% of the households participated. With the Facebook page, we are now are being followed throughout the US, but also in the Netherlands, Canada, Denmark and Germany.We we averaging 6000 a week of viewers. We were shared be NH Magazine and Manchester Airport. on Facebook. VPR did a story on the pumpkin people and this year we again a leaf peeping/ pumpkin people day. (October 10th) Garfield’s, Meriden Deli and Ann’s Country Store all ran specials and handed out maps. Maps were also available at Edgewater Farm Stand and Riverview Farms. We hope the fun continues for generations to come. This year I contacted all the nursing home and offered them maps so that if they wanted to bring residents out they would know what roads to check out. I also went to the Real estate offices and Pitched the idea that if they had the owner put a pumpkin person in front of the house with the sales sign I would post it on my Facebook page. 6000 eyes is a lot of free advertising.
As for the ones I like. I love them all! But you should check out Curella Deville on Chellis Road, The sledding guy and Marshmallow toasting guy on Main Street. Also Meriden Deli’s prince and princess. Hans and Frans on Jenny Road. But actually there are so many good one you just need to go ride around.
– From an email interview with organizer John Austin