New Hampshire

Watch: Keene Pumpkin Fest Lady Accuses Journalist of Being 'Free-Stater,' Tries to Censor Him


The weekend drunken riots in Keene, New Hampshire, didn't actually happen at the annual pumpkin festival. But obviously they're still going to be a big deal in a small town of 20,000. Of course, some folks are going to be more concerned about the reputation of the festival than the matters at hand. And some folks are going to make fools of themselves doing so.

That person would be festival organizer Ruth Sterling, who interrupted the broadcast of public access reporter Jared Goodell and threatened to shut him down because she apparently didn't like him bringing up the rioting. She attempts to grab his microphone, attempts to block him from the camera and demands to know if Goodell is a "Free Stater," the term for New Hampshire's libertarian Free State Project efforts. Watch below:


Sterling seems a bit dumbstruck at the idea that the media aren't there to do as they're told. She subsequently defended her censorship efforts to Monday in language no less silly than her behavior on the air:

"I needed to keep 80,000 people safe. And one self-promoting punk could help me do that or TRY to impede me from doing that. I never regret when I try. Last night I was trying. I was not surrendering to fear, intimidation, threats," Sterling wrote.

No, she looked like she was surrendering to fear to me. Did she think the people walking around the pumpkin festival were also watching Goodell's coverage at the same time and were going to start stampeding in a panic?  Goodell took a different perspective:

"I would say over eight hours [of coverage] it was probably 90 percent about the festival, just talking to the families and kids with costumes, about the pumpkins, talking to local non-profit leaders," Goodell told "We talked about the riots in a safe way because we're playing to viewers at home and we want to let the viewers at home know what the safety concerns are.

"Cars were being turned over, fires were being set, a mass casualty [incident] was announced," he added. "I'd say we underreported on the riots."

(Hat tip to Hit and Run commenter Also Ran)

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  1. At one point in the beginning of the video, Sterling accuses Jared of being a “Free Stater”, this is the new pejorative to describe anyone who stands up for their rights.

    From the link:…..l-newsman/

    Shackford’s article left me wondering about the significance of being labeled or accused of being a “Free Starter”. Now it is clear, as it is clear the Free State Project has nothing to do with Pumpkin Fest.

    1. right up there with “patriot” and “constitutionalist”.

  2. In New Hampshire 20,000 is a city, not a small town.

    1. Pop quiz: population of the entire state is…. ?

      1. …slightly more than 20,000?

      2. A little over 1 million.

    2. When I went to Lemonwheel we were the biggest city in Maine for a few days.

      1. Your posse/crew/entourage put the number over the top?

        1. Or was it the orphan palanquin bearers?

  3. “I needed to keep 80,000 people safe. And one self-promoting punk could help me do that or TRY to impede me from doing that. I never regret when I try. Last night I was trying. I was not surrendering to fear, intimidation, threats,” Sterling wrote.

    Please tell me she wears a uniform with gold braid epaulets and a chrome Wehrmacht helmet.

  4. “I was not surrendering to fear, intimidation, threats”

    projection all the way down

  5. She seems pleasant.

  6. At one point “Live Free or Die” used to mean something. It’s New Hampshachussetts now, all the way down.

  7. I never regret when I try. Last night I was trying. I was not surrendering to fear, intimidation, threats,” Sterling wrote.

    Didn’t we get the exact same argument when someone was spraypainting (censoring) paid political signs in a NY subway?

  8. Another Charm School dropout graces the stage.

    1. Dropout? I’d say she graduated with honors.

  9. “I was not surrendering to spewing fear, intimidation, threats.”


  10. No, she looked like she was surrendering to fear to me.

    When her appeal to the masses went largely unanswered by anyone but herself and she vanished, that seemed like a surrender to fear.

  11. Hell hath no fury like a dumpy mom.

  12. I was trying to think of who she reminded me of. She’s Malcolm in the Middle’s mom. Anyone else see it? This sounds like something the character would do, too.

    1. She does come off as a deranged sitcom character, now that you mention it.

    2. Are we sure this wasn’t guerrilla theater-sitcom?????

    3. Yes, that seemed to fit her description very well: the disrespectful mother.

      I tried very hard to like Malcolm in the Middle, watching several episodes because I thought the show’s makers were pitching it to “people like me”, but I just couldn’t stay interested, because none of the characters had my sympathy except the father. That’s why I felt like Breaking Bad was Mr. Cranston’s payback to me for my good faith, and the show was a payback to him for his effort on the preceding not-so-good show.

      1. It’s funny how that works, because I liked Married With Children despite, or because of, none of their characters being sympathetic. I got the impression that all those people were bad enough to deserve each other, and that made it funny. Malcolm in the Middle‘s 1st-person style precluded the possibility of standing back and enjoying bad people being bad to each other.

        Yet, I found The War of the Roses, or maybe it was The War Between the Tates?whichever one was told by Danny DeVito as the divorce lawyer?practically unfunny, while my friend David Lindelof & his friend George Shepherd thought it was a riot. Dave explained it as the humor of the high brought low; I don’t find that intrinsically funny, maybe a difference there in socio-political attitude between us.

        1. I tend to like comedies where the characters are unsympathetic. Too many comedies try for too much drama and character development.
          That’s why Seinfeld and Always Sunny are such good comedies. No one learns anything or grows. It’s just funny.

        2. War of the Roses was a horrifically shit film. No surprise that Lindelof, a writer of indescribable talents, likes it.

          BTW, if he’s really your friend, you should be convincing him to give up writing and to go join some monastic order that punishes communicating with the outside world, by burning your genitals.

          1. Aw fiddlesticks. I just went back and realized that I read David as Damon.

            Well, convince your friend, David, of doing that, anyway.

            1. David’s dead. His son Damon’s very much alive.

  13. Wow, her public-relations initiative to improve the reputation of the pumpkin festival sure paid off!

  14. I noticed this in the article:

    “Ruth Sterling abruptly interrupted his broadcast as he started reading a statement about the ongoing chaos from Keene State College President Ann Huot.”

    So this is the “incitement” which was endangering all the fairgoers?

    Is this public property? Or Linus’s private pumpkin patch?


  15. My God, that woman is a horrible human being. The insincere smiling, the advanced passive aggression…I would have had a hard time not punching her in the face the first time she tried to be all buddy-buddy and put a hand on my shoulder.

    Fuck off, dirtbag.

  16. That kid maintained absolute, professional composure.

  17. On the upside, maybe they will stop doing the pumpkin fest after this year.

  18. Tell Ruth that she is setting a bad example for the children. If adults cannot act with tolerance and civility, what lessons will their impressionable minds learn?
    T 603 352-4410
    F 603 352-4504
    214 Washington Street
    Keene, NH 03431

  19. Let’s see if I got this straight. This is a college guy who reports on a local cable channel. He has enough disposable $ to spend 5 grand on remote equipment, etc. to report from the pumpkin fest, hence the “accusation” that he’s a self-promoter. He’s reporting from, and on, the pumpkin fest when he throws in an add’l report about riots going on nearby, although not on the grounds of the fest. The organizer of the fest fears the bad publicity will hurt attendance next time (or even this time, if the year’s fest goes on long enough), because people will be afraid it’s in a dangerous neighborhood. She thinks this even though the reporter is on a local program, and surely the locals (who’d be familiar with the neighborhood anyway) would find out pretty soon about the riots one way or another, and most of the visitors to the fest come from afar. Therefore she tries to get him to shut up completely.

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