‘It is like you get to see family’

Amazing Pumpkin Carve celebrates its ninth year

Michael Davies's "It's Called Porkroll" carved pumpkin being worked on at carve day on Oct. 11. Photo by Andrew Harrison

It’s another year and the Hopewell Valley (HV) Arts Council Amazing Pumpkin Carve in its ninth year has come to an end.

The celebrated local tradition encompasses a judging showcase of pumpkin carvings – from Halloween scenes and characters to different images, stories and meanings – spanning several days.

Artists were hard at work carving their massive – more than 150-pound – pumpkin provided by Harbat Farms in Hopewell under the big top tent set up on the grounds of Woolsey Park on Carve Day, Oct. 11.

Michelle Clark, along with her 9-year-old son Benjamin, worked and completed their pumpkin called “Uninvited Dinner Guest.”

The youngster came up with the idea for the “Uninvited Dinner Guest.”

“We have a face eating some of his dinner of some gourds and then a spider decides to climb on its head and build a little spider web,” Michelle Clark explained. “It is such an unusual event and something different. It is so fun to see what everyone else comes up with.”

Clark has been pumpkin carving for 13 years and Benjamin is in his third year of carving.

“It was pretty hard and took about four hours,” Benjamin noted.

Michelle Clark (left) and Benjamin Clark (right) next to their finished carved pumpkin for the Hopewell Valley Arts Council 9th annual Amazing Pumpkin Carve. Photo by Andrew Harrison

John Woodard, another carver who showcased his pumpkin, titled his pumpkin “A Slow Goodbye” for his friend.

“There will be puzzle pieces carrying off into the air. It is for a friend who has Alzheimer’s,” he said. “The image is you can see pieces breaking apart as the disease progresses.”

Woodward has been carving for a long time. He does sand, snow and pumpkins.

“[I’ve been] carving in sand for seven years, snow for close to 14 years, and pumpkins for about six or seven years,” Woodard said, adding the Amazing Pumpkin Carve is one of his favorite events and has participated in it for four years.

“To see everyone here, it is a great way to connect with everyone. It is like you get to see family and carving is secondary. The best part is catching up with folks I have not seen since last year.”

John Woodard (center) carves pieces of his pumpkin for his friend who has Alzheimer’s. Photo by Andrew Harrison

Eric Schultz earned best use of lighting for his pumpkin called “Consumed,” which connects to feeling the pressure. He worked on his pumpkin for more than five hours.

“… This is just how I’m feeling these days,” Schultz said of his pumpkin. “I was just going to do a face and it just needed something else, so I made like the pumpkin was eating its head.

“This is my fourth or fifth year participating in the Amazing Pumpkin Carve. I live in Hopewell and love to support the arts as I am an artist and work in the art field all the time.”

To see other artists and carvers at work on their pumpkins is inspiring for Schultz.

“… It pushes you to go further than you thought you were going to go,” he said. “Let me tell you, Captain Ibuprofen is my friend. Ever since I was a child, I always loved Halloween and I really want people to take their time and enjoy Halloween.”

Eric Schultz (left) works on his pumpkin “Consumed” during carve day at Woolsey Park on Oct. 11. Photo by Andrew Harrison

Some of the 2023 pumpkin carve winners include – Britany Keyak-Potoczky for scariest pumpkin for her carve called “Aaahh!”; Jeff Brown for best 3-D carving for his work “Jack’s Fright, Squeezed Tight”; Michael Davies for best surface carving for his pumpkin called “It’s Called Porkroll”; and Danielle Costa-McCobb and Rich Palumbo for most creative use of materials for their pumpkin “Humpty Dumpty’s Nightmare.”

Along with the carved pumpkins, the Amazing Pumpkin Carve had fire pits with story tellers, live music, a kids maze with hay bales for children to take part in, face painting, cornhole, and various other games for people to enjoy.

The annual pumpkin carve is the Arts Council’s major fundraiser of the year. After expenses and the pumpkin carvers are paid, the remaining money funds the nonprofit’s operating budget and programs for the following year.

People can view the full list of winners and a slideshow of the pumpkin carvings at www.hvartscouncil.org.

Jeff Brown carving his pumpkin for the Amazing Pumpkin Carve which took place at Woolsey Park in Hopewell Township from Oct. 11-15. Photo by Andrew Harrison