Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pumpkins Galore at the Indiana State Fair

Growing up my family carved pumpkins together every October.  After searching through each pumpkin at a nearby garden center we would select the roundest, smoothest and most perfect pumpkin we could find.  We then carefully sketched out our design on the pumpkin, carved our masterpieces and set it on our front porch as Halloween décor. 

I never realized how terrible our jack-o-lanterns were until seeing Ray Villafane’s remarkable carvings.  Check out this carving now on display in the Ball State Ag/Hort Building at the Indiana State Fair and you might feel the same way.

Villafane, a two-time winner of the Food Network’s Challenge Show “Outrageous Pumpkins,” carved this masterpiece along with several other pumpkins during a three-day span in the Ag/Hort Building.  

“It’s a really fluid process,” Villafane said. “It’s not like a chunk of clay that you can start over or change. When you’re carving, sometimes a piece breaks off and you have to adapt as you go. If the design’s coming out a certain way, I go with that.

While carving in the Ag/Hort Building, Villafane often paused to explain his creative process to spectators.  Here is a clip from his presentation on Friday.

These impressive carvings are not the only featured pumpkins at the Indiana State Fair.  Near Villafane’s sculptures, you won’t be able to miss the giant pumpkins on display.  With a 1,293 pound pumpkin, John Barenie from Griffith, Ind. claimed first place for the second straight year and the third time overall at the 11th annual Indiana State Fair Giant Pumpkin Contest.  

The Indiana Pumpkin Growers Association awarded Barenie with a $1,000 check and trophy for his success, although Barenie’s winning pumpkin still fell 15 pounds shy of his state record-holding pumpkin grown in 2011.

Transporting these giant pumpkins is no easy task. During the contest, a forklift lifted each pumpkin and placed it onto the scale as three men worked together to remove its harness. 

Pumpkin growers travelled from as far as Alabama to participate in the State Fair contest, with entries ranging from 260 to 1,293 pounds. 

All of these pumpkins and more are on display through the remainder of the Indiana State Fair in the Ball State Ag/Hort Building.

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