‘We want people to have fun’

Hopewell Valley Arts Council to hold its ninth annual Amazing Pumpkin Carve from Oct. 11-15

Artist carves massive pumpkin in the Hopewell Valley Arts Council's 2022 Amazing Pumpkin Carve. Photo courtesy of the HV Arts Council.

Massive pumpkins are showcasing the work of local artists as they carve various pictures, fall scenes, and characters for the Hopewell Valley (HV) Arts Council’s ninth annual Amazing Pumpkin Carve.

Through years of the COVID-19 pandemic the Amazing Pumpkin Carve had transformed into a drive-thru and hybrid event for safety protocols and now is returning as a full walk-through event in Hopewell Township’s Woolsey Park from Oct. 11-15.

“We are back to being fully walk-through and to take a step further because we are so concerned about bad weather there will be a giant tent,” said Carol Lipson, executive director of the HV Arts Council. “All of the pumpkins will be under one giant big top, so that rain or shine people can come see them.”

Local artists will transform their 32 – more than 150-pound massive pumpkins – into carved artwork on Oct. 11. The pumpkins were donated by Harbat Farms in Hopewell and come from East Earl Township, Pa.

Visitors to Woolsey Park can view the completed works under the large, big top tent from 7-9 p.m. that day.

They are also able to view the artists carved pumpkins from 5-9 p.m. Oct. 12 and Oct. 13, from 3-9 p.m. on Oct. 14 and from 3-7 p.m. on Oct. 15.

“The Amazing Pumpkin Carve helps people stir their own creativity. It is an activity that almost every family does, and this event shows people how they can even take pumpkin carving to the next level,” she said. “I always hear stories about little kids who go home and try to do them more elaborately after being at the carve.”

For people to view the pumpkins and enjoy each day’s activities and music, tickets cost $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $5 for children 18 and under. Strollers are free, according to the HV Arts Council.

One of the artists whose pumpkin will be on display is Caroline Hall, chair of The Pennington School’s Art Department. She has been participating in the Amazing Pumpkin Carve since the beginning of the event.

“I absolutely love Halloween. I love the idea of carving pumpkins and using nature as an art form,” Hall said. “I’m primarily a painter and I teach two-dimensional art design and drawing, but I also dabble in a little bit of sculpture and did a lot of ceramics.”

Her history with ceramics work involved carving into things and thinking about different forms.

“So, I loved the idea of pumpkins as a medium to do that in,” she said. “It has been a challenge every year of ‘if I can still do it and can I come up with a new idea,’ It is my one fall activity where I challenge three of my advance art students to do it with me.”

Three students are set to join her again next week and carve their own pumpkin as Hall carves her own.

Hall has two ideas she is thinking about for her pumpkin. One idea is inspired by her time this summer in Maine working on a project.

“My idea is probably some kind of lobster coming out of a pot or going into a pot,” she said. “But my other idea is my son is obsessed with Minecraft game, and he said, ‘Mom you should think about making a Minecraft character.'”

Hall is currently practicing both concepts on pumpkins she has at home. She noted that when it comes to carving on the massive pumpkin provided by the HV Arts Council she will give herself five to six hours of time on carve day.

“I have a little bit of a technical theater background [and] I like to add things around it. Last year, my pumpkin stood up tall and had a skeleton involved with it,” Hall noted. “I have an idea for the decorations that will go with my pumpkin this year.”

During the days of the Amazing Pumpkin Carve there will also be fire pits with story tellers, live music available, a kids maze with hay bales for children to take part in, face painting, cornhole, and various games that people can enjoy.

The annual pumpkin carve is the Arts Council’s major fundraiser of the year.

“The proceeds of the event will go towards the expenses for running the Amazing Pumpkin Carve and we also strongly believe that since we are making money off the event that the carvers should be compensated. We pay the carvers $150 each,” Lipson said.

Remaining funds will go towards a good portion of the HV Arts Council’s operating budget for all of next year.

“All the expenses with operating the Arts Council and all the art programming is contingent on how much money is raised,” Lipson said.

One aspect of the Amazing Pumpkin Carve that is new this year is the connection with OneCompostCan, a Lambertville residential and commercial composting company, that will come pick up all the pumpkins to feed to their pigs.

The company will also pick up the hay bales to recycle on their farm.

“We just want people to have fun, and this is a small-town fun activity to enjoy,” Lipson added.

For information on tickets and the Amazing Pumpkin Carve, visit www.hvartscouncil.org.