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Out & About: Gourd Horde Emerges in Plainfield as Pumpkin People Invade

  • Some of the Plainfield Pumpkin People that are spread throughout town. (John Austin photographs)

  • Some of the Plainfield Pumpkin People that are spread throughout town. (John Austin photographs)

  • Some of the Plainfield Pumpkin People that are spread throughout town. (John Austin photographs)

  • Some of the Plainfield Pumpkin People that are spread throughout town. (John Austin photographs)

  • Some of the Plainfield Pumpkin People that are spread throughout town. (John Austin photographs)

  • Some of the dozens of Plainfield Pumpkin People that have popped up throughout the town. (Valley News photographs — Liz Sauchelli)

  • Some of the dozens of Plainfield Pumpkin People that have popped up throughout the town. (Valley News photographs — Liz Sauchelli)



Valley News Calendar Editor
Saturday, October 07, 2017

Plainfield — Driving into town along Trues Brook Road from West Lebanon, I started to notice them — in various shapes and sizes, decked out in all different kids of attire and set about in all different poses.

By the time I got to Town Hall to meet John Austin, I was already thoroughly charmed by the Plainfield Pumpkin People.

“You just never know what you’re going to see,” Austin, event manager for Plainfield Pumpkin People, said as we began the tour.

Over the course of the next hour, I was delighted by a caterpillar, Tinker Bell and Peter Pan, a utility worker climbing a pole, a fisherman catching an inflatable fish from a kiddie pool, clowns, firefighters, trick-or-treaters, an eclipse viewer, Lucy, from Peanuts, at her advice booth, and even Weird Al Yankovic, which tuned into a particular radio station plays his music. The only common characteristic was that each involved a pumpkin, real or fake.

“There’s no contest. There’s no winners,” Austin said. “It’s to promote the town that I live in.”

Six years ago, two Plainfield residents saw the scarecrows in Grantham and wanted to do something similar in Plainfield.

“We decided to come up with a different theme,” Austin said. The group started with six pumpkin people.

“Then, all of a sudden, in two weeks, we had 31 that showed up on their own,” Austin said. The next year there were 90 and it’s grown every year since. At the time of our tour, there were about 100.

“Every day five or 10 more go up,” Austin said. Every other day, Austin drives around town photographing the new arrivals.

This year, the pumpkin people are on display from Sept. 23-Oct. 31. On Oct. 14 — Plainfield Pumpkin People Day — maps will be available at area businesses for people to go on self-guided tours.

My favorite part of the Plainfield Pumpkin People is the organic process of getting involved. Beyond announcing dates, residents are left up to their own devices. There is no place for participants to sign up; Austin just asks that people let him know when their displays are up so he can add them to the map. He regularly uploads photos to Facebook and notes the new pumpkin person’s location on the map.

“I think one reason it works is … the kids love it,” Austin said. “I think the kids drive their parents to do it.”

Plus, it “makes their commute to work much more enjoyable.”

Some residents create a display of pumpkin people to reflect events in their lives: Austin pointed out a bride and bridegroom and said the couple’s daughter was getting married. A pumpkin person dressed in graduation garb indicated that another resident’s child graduated from Kimball Union Academy this year.

“Usually, if one goes up on a road, more will go,” Austin said.

I know I’ll be taking a return visit to Plainfield to see what’s there.

Editor’s note: For more information about the Plainfield Pumpkin People, visit https://www.facebook.com/Plainfieldpumpkinpeople-532078266868758/. Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.