The Return of the Pumpkin People

The population of Jackson, NH, where I live, consists of about 884 Yankees and other assorted folks. Unless it happens to be the month of October, that is, in which case the head count swells to a whopping 932  … or thereabouts! The reason?  Pumpkin People!! Check out this year’s zany crop of vegetal vagabonds in the Mountain Farmgirl’s account of  “The Return of the Pumpkin People” …

For the last 24 years, magical, intriguing Pumpkin People have been coming to the White Mountains of Jackson, NH in time to greet the changing foliage and the hordes of ‘Leaf Peepers’ who come to view them. Just how they first arrived or where they originally came from is still a mystery, but year after year these wonderful, colorful characters show up on our doorsteps, in front of businesses and in every conceivable posture and setting all over town. It happens in the blink of an eye. September 30 is a day like any other, with the sun setting at a noticeably early 6:29 pm.  Then suddenly, on the First of October, it rises upon scores of pumpkin-bedecked faces in the midst of amusing and playful antics. No one sees them come into town in the dark of night, but we welcome them back with open arms!

The Pumpkin People announce themselves on a map of our village, their whereabouts marked for all to see. During the month of October you will see people walking all over town, maps in hand, scouting them out so they don’t miss a single one, and voting for their favorites. It is good, clean fun during my favorite -- and I think one of the most beautiful -- seasons of the year.
My husband and I decided to hit the ole ‘Pumpkin Trail’ yesterday, viewing most of the sights. He drove, and I was the co-pilot, giving directions and snapping tons of colorful photos! I’d love to take you on a tour to view them, too!
We might as well start right outside the front door of our inn, where  Mary Pumpkin, er … I mean Mary Poppins awaits us, umbrella and satchel in hand. She seems to be wearing some very familiar clothes … in fact, they’re mine! Thank goodness for that umbrella, which has come in mighty handy so far. It has been heck of a rainy week here in New England!


Rapumpzel awaits us next over at the local deli, her long tresses trailing from the second floor:

Across the street at a private home is a display that is always awesome and ‘over the top’. DD puts on quite a show, but then, everything she does is always top notch.  Don’t you just love her ‘Pick Your Own’ apples?! This year DD’s  theme was Pirates of the Carribbean, and here are a few shots of her labor of love:


Over at the Wentworth Inn are Johnny and June Carter Cash, with their song “Jackson” (how appropriate!) playing in the background!

Going up past Jackson Falls, which is still flowing mightily from all this rain, we come to our friends at the Carter Notch Inn, whose reputation for off-color and slightly risqué  displays are always a hoot-and-a-half!  This year they made a “wind farm” … a take off on a local happening, just north of us, where a humongous REAL wind farm is in the making.  There will be 33 gigantic windmills erected, and all summer we have been watching the 140’ blades drive by on their way to the site. Dick and Sally’s wind farm, however, was of a slightly different nature …!

And talk about ‘hoots’ … these adorable owls are perching outside our local florist shop!

Near the covered bridge is a pumpkin watering can, sprinkling what is left of our summer blooms.  Nearby at our local beauty salon, Debony has some of the happiest and sweetest flowers around!


This Magician cuts a woman in half … hope he’s successful!  Don’t you just love the feet coming out of the left side of the box?

Story Land is one of our White Mountain family attractions, sort of a mini Disney Land experience started over 50 years ago by a local couple.  It has grown into a major destination, full of good, clean, wholesome family fun.  Is it any wonder that they chose a fairy tale theme?

This butternut squash plays the part perfectly in our local massage therapist’s rendition of  Edward Munch’s painting, The Scream. Sorry the photo is a bit skewed … her massage shop is on a sharp curve near the covered bridge  and there were cars behind us when I quickly snapped the picture!

Frankenstein, The Mummy and Count Dracula regale us over at the Covered Bridge House B&B.

These adorable little fraulines wave a warm welcome at the Bernerhof Inn:

Below, Stevie Wonder plays his keyboard, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves adorn a front porch, and the Smurfs frolic on a golf course:

Who can resist  the happy chef cooking away at the Wildcat Tavern, the Up, Up and Away display at the White Mountain Puzzle shop, or John Lennon and Yoko One as they Give Peace a Chance?


Here are a few more … a water skier, a Sumo wrestler and Beetlejuice:


In the display of  Cruella Deville over at the Inn at Ellis River, our neighbors spent fully as much time creating the beautiful and elaborate set as they did on the Pumpkin People themselves. What dedication!

One of my favorite displays pays tribute to a couple of local Jackson celebrities: Tom and Atticus.  Tom is a hiker, whom along with his trusty little companion, Atticus (a terrier), has hiked all the 4000' peaks in the White Mountains many times to raise money for various causes. Tom's new book was recently released. Here it is, along with Tom the Pumpkin Person (and of course, Atticus!):


Here's another one of my favorites. It shows Gulliver being contained by the many Liliputians (Lilipumpkins?!):

And let’s not forget to Give Thanks …. for our Military Men!


Musicians play a large part in the Pumpkin People World … Here are Elvis, The Beatles and the Jackson  Five on their recent trips to Jackson!


October Pumpkin People may be fun and games, but like us, they are not immune to tragedies … Here the Shannon Door Irish Pub re-enacts Finnegan’s Wake:

In response to the tremendous amount of roadwork and construction that has taken place in our area, these clever construction workers work near a local bridge:


Below, a hunter snoozes while the local game stops by to check him out. To his  right, the Addams Family makes an appearance in town:


And last but not least, here are a few more cute exhibits to round out the variety of creativity which abounds:


So, that’s a little look at what we do here in the  mountains to celebrate the fall!  What do farmgirls do in your neck of the woods?  We’d love to hear from you!
Until next time,
Mountain Bounty, Mountain Blessings from
Cathi, The Mountain Farmgirl




By: Nanette
On: 10/17/2011 07:38:49
Thank you for sharing your town's pumpkin people. I have never seen a display like this. I really appreciated the introductions too.
By: Vickie
On: 10/17/2011 08:54:31
What a wonderful place to live!! The town focus being placed on creativity and wholesome fun rather than the darker side of Halloween that seems so prevalent any more. Thank you for sharing.
By: Jackie
On: 10/17/2011 11:00:51
What a fabulous tour, love the pumpkin people. Very creative and what a nice way to celebrate the fall/Halloween season!!!
By: Kathleen Robinson
On: 10/18/2011 08:24:20
Fantastic! This is one of my best times of the year, and this looks like it is for you folks too! Hope to come up and see it sometime!
By: Tanya
On: 10/18/2011 09:38:00
Love it!!!!
This is something that would be real fun in my rural community.
I would appriciate any hints on the construction and support of the pumpkin people. The wind can get pretty mean up here on the plateau and I would hate to me my pumpkin people turn to pumpkin pie.
By: Kindred Spirit
On: 10/18/2011 14:39:55
My fourteen year old daughter and I just took a stroll through your pumpkin people tour. We found it to be wonderful. My daughter wants to create her own pumpkin people. Thank you for inspiring her and me as well.
By: Donna Shaw
On: 10/18/2011 21:08:03
Oh how fun this is.I love your stories.They are a joy.
By: Matilda
On: 10/19/2011 11:38:21
What an amazing amount of talent in your town. I think they are all great, would be hard to pick a favorite.
By: Debbie
On: 10/20/2011 12:38:02
Hi Cathi!
Wow! What creative folks you live around! I love the idea of pumpkin people... instead of ghosts and goblins for Halloween...Your daughter outdid herself with her pirate theme. I you're not too tired from your fall pumpkin people tour, come on by my beach blog for some more New England Fall Fodder!
Happy Fall Cathi!
Deb ( your beach farmgirl bloggin' sister )

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Cathi Belcher

Cathi Belcher,
an old-fashioned farmgirl with a pioneer spirit, lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. As a “lifelong learner” in the “Live-Free-or-Die” state, she fiercely values self-reliance, independence, freedom, and fresh mountain air. Married to her childhood sweetheart of 40+ years (a few of them “uphill climbs”), she’s had plenty of time to reinvent herself. From museum curator, restaurant owner, homeschool mom/conference speaker, to post-and-beam house builder and entrepreneur, she’s also a multi-media artist, with an obsession for off-grid living and alternative housing. Cathi owns and operates a 32-room mountain lodge. Her specialty has evolved to include “hermit hospitality” at her rustic cabin in the mountains, where she offers weekend workshops of special interest to women.

“Mountains speak to my soul, and farming is an important part of my heritage. I want to pass on my love of these things to others through my writing. Living in the mountains has its own particular challenges, but I delight in turning them into opportunities from which we can all learn and grow.”

Column content copyright © 2010– Cathi Belcher. All rights reserved.

Mountain Bounty

“Keep close to Nature’s heart ... and break clear away once in awhile to climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods, to wash your spirit clean.”
– John Muir