Pumpkin seeds and stems were flying at the Rogue Bayfront Public House on Saturday during the Killer Pumpkin Festival — the first of many to come, according to organizers.
Hosted on the public house’s patio, for just $2, people of all ages could take a mallet to a small pumpkin — or for $4, they could use a hand-carved, 40-pound wooden hammer — lovingly named “Thor” — and smash a pumpkin of any size.
“It has been amazing, we have had everybody from age four to 74 come out,” said Lonna Roe, office and visitor services manager for the Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce.
The festival also served as a fundraiser for a local non-profit: Roe also oversees the Newport Young Professionals group, which received part of the day’s profits.
“The Rogue actually reached out to us,” said Roe when asked how the partnership came about. “Jim Cline called the chamber and said that they do this annually in Portland, and it has been such a great success. They give a portion of their profits to a charity up there, and so he thought he would want to bring it to Newport, and thought that the young professionals would be … the perfect nonprofit group for the money to go to.”
Specifically, the money will help support the group’s annual senior Thanksgiving, when young working professionals from around Newport work alongside Girl Scouts to bring Thanksgiving cheer to around 200 seniors without families to cook with or for them.
“Us and the Girl Scouts pair up, and we cook 17 20-pound turkeys, a million pounds of mashed potatoes, I swear, and it’s a really good time,” Roe said with a smile. “People have a blast.”
The event had pumpkin smashers from as near as Newport and as far as Portland, but all agreed that it was a grand time. In its first year, the Killer Pumpkin Fest raised over $400 for the Newport Young Professionals.
When asked if the festival will return next fall, she answered: “Absolutely, there will be a next year — we’ve got too many pumpkins to smash still.”