Buzz Pinkham zooms around the Damariscotta River in his 2.5 horsepower pumpkin boat in this BDN file photo. He helped found the festival in 2005, when just one pumpkin boat hit the water. Credit: Abigail Curtis | Bangor Daily News

Columbus Day weekend in Damariscotta is like nowhere else on earth. Over two days, gigantic gourds are carved up and hollowed out for an annual Pumpkinboat Regatta.

“I work at Bath Iron Works, so we engineer destroyers by day and build pumpkins boats on Columbus Day,” Damariscotta Pumpkinfest Founder Bill Clark said.

There’s an art to finding the right pumpkin.

“It took us a while to figure out how to do it,” Clark said.

“You want something that, ideally, is large enough, over 800-900 pounds,” pumpkin-boat-building Russell Orms said.

It needs to be big enough for someone to sit inside and stay afloat.

“It’s a little like racing a beach ball. The pumpkin floats very well, doesn’t float as well with you in it, it wants to throw you off,” Orms said.

As a few people over the years have experienced…

“Ready… set… get wet! And sure enough, someone does,” Orms said.

But the fun is in the design. One division is even building a platform to mount a motor on the back.

“We’ve gone back to what I call the ‘toilet seat version.’ We cut a piece of plywood and bolt it to the top. It’s kind of a round toilet seat-looking thing,” Clark said.

They may not be the prettiest pumpkins, but those at helm seem to be having a pretty good time.

“It’s not about going fast, it’s not about where you place, it’s about putting on a show for the crowd, just making sure the crowd is happy because you don’t see this everyday,” Clark said.

CBS 13’s Chief Meteorologist Charlie Lopresti and Meteorologist Amanda Jellig were scheduled to have their pumpkin boat in the race. They were to compete against other meteorologists from Portland.

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