Nova Scotia Pumpkin Regatta canceled indefinitely due to lack of water in Pisiquid Lake

The annual Pumpkin Regatta in Windsor, Nova Scotia, which turns giant gourds into personal vegetable crafts to race on a man-made lake has been canceled indefinitely.

Organizers of the Windsor-West Hants Pumpkin Festival made the announcement on Wednesday, citing lack of water in the lake as the reason for the cancellation.

“Pisquid Lake is dry right now and we haven’t had a full regatta since 2018, so it just seemed, in consultation with our committee, that the time was right,” said Vanessa Roberts, longtime logistics coordinator. date of the regatta, Narrated Main Street of Radio-Canada Halifax.

“I saw the writing on the wall and you know, you don’t have water, you don’t have a regatta,” said Danny Dill, owner of the Dill family farm and main supplier of the giant pumpkins. . Main Street.

“You need three ingredients. You need water, a giant pumpkin, and a bishop to paddle it.”

The Windsor Pumpkin Regatta cannot take place as Pisiquid Lake between Windsor and Falmouth, NS is dry. (Paul Palmer/CBC)

The Pisiquid man-made lake, which is dammed and once filled with fresh water from the River Avon, was empty for over a year. A Ministerial Order required the tidal gates at the Windsor causeway to be operated so as to improve fish passage to and from the Avon for short periods during tidal currents. This drastically lowers the water level.

Roberts, who works for the Regional Municipality of West Hants, said other local lakes were being considered to host the regatta, but “logistically none fit our needs”.

She said the regatta is expected to be held in a lake that can accommodate 10,000 to 15,000 spectators, which the regatta has attracted in previous years.

The first pumpkin regatta was held in 1999 after Dill had the idea to put his giant pumpkins in the water, knowing they would float. There has been a regatta almost every year since.

“It’s a lot of work. It’s a huge loss to our community because I mean, I had no idea in 1999 how much interest it would bring and it just kept growing and growing every year,” Dill said.

“There’s a part of me that’s a bit sad, but it’s a relief because it’s a lot of work, of course too.”

The last Pumpkin Regatta was in 2019, a smaller event that almost didn’t happen after a poor growing season.

The 2020 and 2021 regattas have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and provincial gathering restrictions.

Not the last Pumpkin Regatta in Nova Scotia

Although the Pumpkin Regatta won’t take place in Windsor, Dill said another community hopes to hold on this year.

“They contacted me in the spring. They knew our situation. We had no water and it looks like we never will,” Dill said.

“Who knows when again here with this freeway construction, so I wished him luck, and said I would do anything to help you.”

Danny Dill, owner of the Dill family farm, says he will supply the pumpkins to a South Shore community that wants to host its own regatta. (Carolyn Ray/CBC)

He couldn’t confirm which community will be hosting a regatta, but said it was somewhere on the South Shore – and he would provide the giant gourds as usual.

“They’ve got a good harbour, and they’re going to start this year with five pumpkins, literally to get their feet wet, so to speak,” he said.

“…I wish them well and they are happy and it should be a big draw for their community.”

As for Windsor, Roberts said other events are expected to draw crowds to the city this fall.

Dr Kier Stewart, a heart surgeon from Halifax, shows off his technique as he races his giant pumpkin during the 19th annual Windsor-West Hants Pumpkin Festival regatta on Pisiquid Lake in Windsor in 2017 . (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

The annual Garlic Festival moves to downtown Windsor on September 17 and the annual Howard Dill Pumpkin Classic and Weigh-in at the Dill Family Farm is still underway for October 1.

“There are farmers markets and all kinds of things where people can go [to] and explore our region, so yes it’s sad to lose our regatta, but it also creates opportunities,” she said.