Keene Pumpkin Fest vs Highwood Pumpkin Fest

Posted by on Oct 18, 2012 in Downey Insurance

Keene Pumpkin Fest 2012 to Compete with Highwood Pumpkin Fest after Highwood Falsely Claims World Record in 2011

Keene Pumpkin Festival is getting some extra media attention from the national cable channel HGTV.  Drew Scott from the hit show Property Brothers will be traveling to Keene, NH for The Keene Pumpkin Festival, while his twin brother Jonathan Scott will be traveling to Highwood, Illinois for The Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival

Each brother will be trying to help their respective town reach their goal of setting the Guinness World Record for The Most Lit JackOLanterns In One Location.  This competition dubbed Pumpkin Wars will be broadcast on October 31st on HGTV at 9pm.

This competition must be a bit of a sore spot for Highwood, Illinois.  In 2011 it was widely reported in Illinois news, and even nationally, that they broke the world record at the Highland Pumpkin Fest.  Unfortunately according to the Guinness Book of World Records this was not the case.  I contacted Guinness World Records regarding the current record and this was their response:

“Hi Cate, thanks for the question. The current record is:

The record for the most lit Jack-o’-lanterns on display is 30,128 in an event organised by Camp Sunshine at the Life is good Pumpkin Festival in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, on 21 October 2006.

Highwood may have had a large number of pumpkins displayed last year, but we have not received a suitable claim for this, so the 2006 record stands. Prior to the current record, Keene held it 5 times beginning in 1996.”

So it is questionable how many pumpkins The Highland Pumpkin Fest 2011 did display but there is no doubt that it was a close call.   Last year, The Keene Pumpkin Fest 2011 was only able to display 16,186 pumpkins.  They would need to almost double their participation in order to beat the the current record of 30,128 pumpkins.

The Keene Pumpkin Fest has been a local favorite for the past 20 years in Keene, NH and was almost lost due to a lack of resources.  It was saved by the creation of a non-profit organization, Let it Shine, Inc. Their one and only purpose is to continue the magical pumpkin tradition for Keene, NH. 

Sterling Design and Communications has been tasked to manage this years hyped up festival.  The additional pressure of competing on a national stage and the addition of new events has not kept them preparing for a fantastic show.  They have done an exceptional job and and we should expect one of the grandest Pumpkin Fests to date.

This year’s Keene Pumpkin Fest has a busy schedule and is adding may new events such as The Great Pumpkin Mile Race that will run through the pumpkin lined streets of Keene.  Also a children’s costume contest, pumpkin bowling, food and craft vendors, and the Pumpkin Dump Derby a race to clean up all the pumpkins with competing cleanup teams.

This is for sure an exciting time for the Keene Community.  I can’t wait to see how many pumpkins they can crank out this year!  Don’t miss Pumpkin Wars that will air on HGTV on Halloween, October 31st at 9pm. 

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New Mass Law Bans Mulch Next to Wood or Vinyl Sided Buildings

Posted by on Sep 2, 2012 in Downey Insurance

A new law took effect in Massachusetts this week banning landscape Mulch from surrounding buildings that have wood or vinyl siding.  All landscape mulch needs to be at least 18 inches from the base of these buildings.  Small residential buildings, with fewer that 6 units, are except from this law but still should consider following this new safety recommendation.  Pea stone or crushed rock is considered a safe alternative that is readily accessible.


Massachusetts State Fire Marchall Steven Coan states that this new law is in response to the many mulch fires in MA that spread to buildings, and have unfortunately caused tremendous damage.  One example is the 2008 apartment complex fire in Peabody, due to a cigarette that was discarded in mulch next to the building, that cause 7 Million dollars of damage.


This type of fire is preventable and should be taken very seriously.  At Downey Insurance we have seen the devastation that a building fire can cause, and the disruption to your business that may follow.  Most business insurance policies have an endorsement available called business interruption that will help cover you in the event of this type of tragedy.


To request for a professional insurance review please visit our website at or call us at 888-875-7539.

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I Am Vermont Strong License Plate- Released and Approved for Use

Posted by on Jan 6, 2012 in Business Insurance, Downey Insurance, Farm Insurance, Insurance

Image courtesy of I Am Vermont Strong Faceebook Page

The state of Vermont and the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles has approved the use of the “I Am Vermont Strong” license plate for Vermonters. The plate may be displayed over your current Vermont registration on the front bumper of your vehicle through June 30th 2014.

You may pre-order your one of 10,000 license plates for $25, for shipment on 2/1/2012. More license plates may be created if there is a strong demand, but pre-ordering will get you on the list for the first edition.

The idea for the plates arose the of the “I Am Vermont Strong” movement that was started by Lyz Tomsuden and Eric Mallete of Rutland, VT. Originally “I am Vermont Strong” started as a Facebook photo that went viral. Vermonters loved the message so much that they started requesting t-shirts by the hundreds. So far they have sold over 4,500 t-shirts to Vermonters and Vermont supporters.

“I am Vermont Strong” will be donating $18 to the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund, and $2 to the Vermont Food bank for every license plate sold. Irene cause so much damage to the state of Vermont and donations are starting to decline, new sources of revenue for the relief funds can only help our cause. The resiliency and resourcefulness of our people never cease to amaze me as we travel on this journey to recovery.

To Pre-Order Your “I am Vermont Strong” plate you may do so through Vermont Life, and to read more about the “I am Vermont Strong” movement check out their website or Facebook Page.

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It’s Moving Day! Downey Insurance is Back on Flat Street in Brattleboro VT

Posted by on Dec 5, 2011 in Business Insurance, Downey Insurance, Homeowners Insurance, Insurance

After 3 months at our temporary location at 57 Elliot Street  Brattleboro, VT we are finally back in our 80 Flat Street Location that was flooded out by hurricane Irene.  What a crazy ride it has been, but what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.  Overall Downey Insurance Group is lucky, all we lost were material possessions.  Thanks to technology and the ability to work “in the cloud” we did not lose any of our policy data and we were able to help clients with their own claims during and after the disaster.  We could work from the top of Mt. Wantastiquet if we wanted to, but there is nothing like you own familiar surroundings to make you feel at home.  With the addition of new office furniture and carpet we think our office is looking pretty snazzy.  Thank you to Conte Office Interiors for helping us with our new office furniture!


Looking around Flat Street it is hard to envision what it looked like during the flood.  We found this video on You Tube, we don’t know this guy but I would like to thank him for this crazy footage of Flat Street during the flood.  Check out this video of our office building being ravaged by the flood waters…

To get the whole story read our first Flood Blog post.

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How to Carve a Fantastic Pumpkin

Posted by on Oct 10, 2011 in Downey Insurance, Insurance

There is something magical that happens when you turn a pumpkin into a Jack O’ Lantern or other carved masterpiece.  It is something of a tradition in our family, and every year our creations tend to get more and more elaborate.  This year’s pumpkins are pretty mild compared to some we have done in the past.  It is something our whole family looks forward to in the fall, for us it marks the beginning of the change in seasons we experience here in New England.  Nothing says “fall” to us more than cool crisp air, changing leaves, and a freshly carved pumpkin.  We have come up with some great tips over the years that make for a fun and rewarding pumpkin carving experience. I am happy to share them with our fellow pumpkin carving enthusiasts.


1.) Pick the perfect pumpkin.  It should have a good surface for carving.  Make sure there are no deep ridges or bumps that will make carving difficult.  Keep in mind the size of the carving you are considering.  You want to make sure you have enough height to fit your design.

2.) Choose a design to carve.  There are many kits available that come with pumpkin carving stencils and utensils.  I highly recommend these kits for a professional look that can be created by almost anyone.  They come with many stencil designs that vary from easy to difficult, so there are many different options and degrees of difficulty to choose from.  You also can make your own stencil, or draw freehand on the pumpkin with a Sharpie or other permanent marker.

3.) Prepare your pumpkin for carving.  Cut an access hole in your pumpkin at the top around the stem.  Make sure you do not cut too far down the carving surface of the pumpkin.  Cutting about 2 inches from the stem all the way around usually work well, make sure to angle your cut slightly inward so your top will not fall in when replaced.  Then scoop out the insides of the pumpkin.  If you save the seeds they are great for roasting for a tasty snack (wash the seeds thoroughly, salt lightly, and then bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes).  After you have scooped out the inside of the pumpkin, choose which surface of the pumpkin you will carve.  If your pumpkin is really thick, it is a good idea to scrape down the inside of the pumpkin where you will carve it.  This makes carving difficult designs a little easier.


4.) Transfer your design.  If you are drawing your own design, then go for it.  Just make sure you do not draw where you will not be cutting.  For example, if you are cutting a smile with teeth do not draw the smile first then add the teeth because you will have a black line across your tooth!  If you are using a paper design, tape your stencil onto your pumpkin.  Sometimes you have to fold the paper around the edges to make it fit to the round surface of your pumpkin.   Pumpkin carving kits come with a tool to transfer your design by poking small holes along the cutting lines.  You could also use a toothpick.

5.) Carve your pumpkin.  Using your knife (serrated works best) or pumpkin carving tool, connect the dots of your stencil to cut out your design.  Working in small sections works best.  If you have a large piece to cut out, sometimes it is a good idea to do it in smaller sections, especially if it  is an intricate design.  Don’t be afraid to go back and scrape down the wall of the pumpkin where you are carving, this can make the process much easier if you are struggling!  Another great tip is to let the tool do the work, just like cutting a loaf of bread, let the serration of the tool cut through the pumpkin.  It will be much easier to control your tool if you are not putting a lot of pressure on it.

6.) Light and enjoy.  Tea lights work best because they are encased in metal and they will not burn or melt wax into your pumpkin.  Lastly, light up your pumpkin and display it so it can be enjoyed for the work of art that it is!

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Downey Insurance Group Is Balancing Its Own Disaster Management Crisis as They Maintain Continuity of Service for Their Clients

Posted by on Aug 29, 2011 in Business Insurance, Downey Insurance, Insurance

Downey Insurance Group is fully functional even as our Brattleboro, VT office is currently under water with the many other businesses near Main Street in Brattleboro, Vermont.  The area is experiencing devastation from flooding conditions that have not been seen in nearly a century.   Many of the residents in Vermont were not expecting this magnitude of flooding from hurricane Irene. Rivers and streams flooded quickly forcing people to evacuate without much notice and without many options.   Many of these flooded homes and businesses are without flood insurance which will make recovery difficult for many.   FEMA will be assessing the damage and should be accepting request for Disaster Assistance shortly.


Unlike some of the businesses in the area, it is crucial for Downey Insurance Group to maintain complete functionally during this crisis due to the nature of our business. We are responsible for filing claims for our clients during this difficult time.  We are simultaneously working on our own claim for Downey’s Brattleboro office that is currently still unreachable due to flooding conditions.  We have re-routed our phone lines to our only fully operational location in Keene, NH where we currently have power, internet, and phone.   Our Marlborough, MA office is semi-functional  with power and phone, but no internet.  Thankfully as part of our Emergency Management Plan we have the capacity to handle this type of  situation with lists of phone and fax numbers for our insurance companies and paper claims forms.


Charlie Downey sprang into action this morning by driving up to Brattleboro, VT through the devastation zone to reach out to the community to find a temporary office space to house our Brattleboro, VT during the cleanup.  The rest of our team at Downey Insurance is working feverishly to file claims for our clients and to help the people during their time of need.  The teamwork and quick action of the Downey Insurance Group family have made this all possible.


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