The Hopewell Valley Arts Council’s annual pumpkin carve tradition will be a little different in its sixth year for valley residents, as the competition becomes a drive-thru event.
For the event to occur during the current coronavirus pandemic, the arts council adapted the Amazing Pumpkin Carve at Woolsey Park in Hopewell Township to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Local artists are set to showcase their pumpkin carve art creations from Oct. 7-11, with Oct. 7 designated as Carve Day for the artists.
“The challenge was to find a place that had a paved road, because if there is rain we could not really use the park like we have traditionally done with people driving on the grass. We had to explore a whole bunch of different places,” said Carol Lipson, executive director of the Hopewell Valley Arts Council. “The township was terrific and there is a limited access gravel road for emergency vehicles at the park that is not open to the general public. They gave us permission to use that access road in the park.”
When residents throughout Hopewell Valley attend the competition event open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day, which features artist’s created detailed images for Halloween, everything will be socially distanced as vehicles drive-thru the access road.
“People will come in from the normal entrance of the park. If there are not a lot of cars in the line, they will go right into being guided around toward the path,” Lipson said. “If busy, we do have places we can get people off the road and entertain them with live music, so if they are waiting in line they will have some entertainment.”
Cars ushered to the access road will make their way through a decorated entrance. Forty tents will be on both sides of the road with the showcased pumpkin carve pieces on hay bales at a certain height, so those in car can clearly view the pumpkins when driving through.
Donated by Harbat Farms in Hopewell, 40 massive pumpkins weighing in between and over 150 pounds will be carved. There are 40 carvers for the pumpkins and also a waiting list of additional carvers.
“We wanted to keep this fall tradition going. We wanted the community to have something memorable for 2020 that is fun,” Lipson added. “We were very concerned that we may not have been able to have this event this year. We had the idea to continue this event back in April and had the drive-thru idea in our back pocket, when it became clear that we could not have the event in our normal way. We wanted people to be safe.”
The annual pumpkin carve continues to be the arts council’s primary fundraiser of the year.
“Our survival kind of depended on how we figured out how we would organize this event. Just like other nonprofits we have been hit pretty hard by not being able to have events,” Lipson said. “We plan to go back to a fall festival next year. This is maybe not ideal, but is still a lot of fun.”
For individuals to participate in the drive-thru, tickets cost $25 per vehicle up to six occupants, $40 per vehicle with more than six occupants, and $100 per bus, according to the organization.
The money raised from the showcase and competition event goes toward paying the artists to carve the pumpkins, supporting the artists who created the carved art pieces, as well as programming for the arts council.
In 2020, the council will have live band music and DJ music during the main hours of each day of the event.
“We have a couple local bands that are going to play on Oct. 9-10. All day on Oct. 11, there will be a DJ from NJ Sings and he will ask for requests from people’s cars, which should be a lot of fun,” Lipson said.
The council added live local music as something new to the event in 2019. Other festivities during last year include, storytelling around fire pits, pumpkin sales and painting, an art show and sale, a hay bale maze and playground.
“While supplies last for the 2020’s event people will receive free pumpkins and will be able to buy pre-packaged snacks at the event. We want people to be inspired by the creativity of the artists and apply it to their own lives. We need to keep the arts alive in Hopewell Valley,” Lipson added.