“Pumpkin King” isn’t a title tossed around lightly (that’s a long-game pun right there). Come to think of it, Danny Elfman’s probably held the honor longer than anyone. But once each year, right around the time the leaves start wandering off their branches and the Forest takes a sudden lean toward apple reds and lemon yellows, a new monarch arrives at the NYBG to wear the crown a while—and there’s always an entourage tagging along. Big, small, squat and tall, a cadre of gargantuan pumpkins are trundling into the Garden for this year’s Giant Pumpkin Carving Weekend, taking place here this weekend on October 19 and 20!
When your prized produce weighs as much as a standard sedan, no one’s going to call out your efforts for lacking heft. Still, in the hyper-competitive world of mammoth produce, every pound counts—even among the giants, one always stands above the rest, especially when the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth is involved. This year’s record-breaking pumpkin hails from Napa, California, where Tim and Susan Mathison primped and preened a young squash into a 2,032-pound behemoth that easily snatched up the world heavyweight title after a stop on the scale. Joining it at the Garden this year are two pumpkins from Dawn and Bill Northrup of New Brunswick, Canada, at 1,813 and 1,024.5 pounds, respectively; and a pair from Dave and Carol Stelts of Edinburgh, Pennsylvania, clocking in at 1,496 and 1,391.5 pounds. Just to add an extra touch of the big and bizarre, we’ll also have Chris Kent’s record-snapping, 350.5-lb. watermelon flying in from Sevierville, Tennessee; and a long gourd from Fred Ansems of Kentville, Nova Scotia, that clocks in at over 11 feet in length.
Obviously there’ll be no porch pumpkin smashing here. Instead, we’re just going to hand them over to Ray Villafane and his team for some mad science with a carving knife—if you haven’t already seen it, this year’s ghoulish design promises the best kind of nightmare. For a head-start on the weekend, Ray will launch his new squashy sculptures on Friday, October 18, with an appearance at Grand Central Station. Join us there from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. near the taxi stand on Vanderbilt Avenue to watch the Villafane team begin the transformation of these patch pumpkins into unparalleled Halloween horrors. Afterward, we’ll move the show back to the Garden to be finished up across Saturday and Sunday.
This weekend’s events and activities are a rare chance to witness the art of the pumpkin in action, so do not let yourself miss out. After all, this kind of ghastly fun only comes around once a year, right? And don’t forget tickets to the first of our Spooky Nighttime Adventures this Friday and Saturday night, inviting families to join us after dark for wandering along our Trick-or-Treat trail, exploring the creepy creatures living in the leaf litter, gourd-decorating, entertainment, and so much more. We’ll see you out there, where the pulp will be flying!
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