By Denise Deby –
The Westboro Farmers’ Market will be showcasing some unusual vegetables on Saturday, October 26. Local pumpkins will be transformed into wicked witches, fanciful figures and intricate works of art when the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Maniac Pumpkin Carvers work their magic at Wickedly Westboro 2013.
The “extreme pumpkins” are new to Wickedly Westboro, the annual street festival running from October 26 to 31 on Richmond Road between Golden and McRae Avenues.
Festival goers will be able to see the Maniac Pumpkin Carvers at work and bid on their pumpkin creations, with pumpkins awarded to winning bidders at noon and 2:00 p.m. Proceeds from the silent auction will go to the Westboro Food Bank. The carvers will be on site at Richmond and Golden between 9:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
The Maniac Pumpkin Carvers’ pumpkin delights have appeared at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, on the Food Network’s Halloween Wars and at numerous other venues. The carvers welcomed the Westboro Village Business Improvement Area’s invitation to participate in Wickedly Westboro, marking their first Canadian appearance.
“We love what we do, and we have so much fun creating pumpkin artwork that it’s great for us to feel like we can share that with people and inspire them to create their own,” explains Chris Soria by phone.
Soria and Marc Evan, the artists who are owners and creative directors of Maniac Pumpkin Carvers, use a variety of techniques in “transforming pumpkins into something fantastic and creative.”
One technique involves scooping out the inside of the pumpkin and etching the face to various depths using linoleum cutters, while another entails sculpting the pumpkin from the outside with clay tools to create a three-dimensional carving. Their works in pumpkin carving have included a backlit recreation of Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night, a display of 50 carved pumpkins for the New York Yankees during the 2009 World Series, and a realistic sculpture of Star Wars’ Yoda.
While in Ottawa, Soria and fellow carver José Rodríguez will share their expertise with students in the Culinary Skills – Chef Training Program at Algonquin College’s School of Hospitality and Tourism. They’ll also meet with members of the Canadian Ice Carvers Society to exchange ideas.
The Algonquin students will show off their newly acquired extreme pumpkin carving skills and share carving tips at Wickedly Westboro along Richmond Road on Saturday, October 26 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Sunday, October 27 from noon to 4:00 p.m.
Saturday’s attractions include magicians, stilt walkers, jugglers and other street performers as well as Dovercat and Dovercourt’s bouncy castle. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson will appear from noon to 1:00 p.m. Costumes are welcome at the festival.
People are also invited to “Trick or Eat” with All Saints’ Anglican and First United Churches by bringing donations for the Westboro Food Bank.
“We offer something for everybody during Wickedly Westboro 2013,” explains Westboro Village BIA Executive Director Mary Thorne. “We call it our wonderful weekend of thrills, chills and everything pumpkin.”
New this year is the Wickedly Westboro Pumpkin Stroll. Participating merchants will display carved pumpkins in their windows for people to view days or evenings. People are welcome to vote for their favourites, with winning pumpkins announced in the November 7 Kitchissippi Times. As well, the Wickedly Westboro Scavenger Hunt returns, inviting participants to visit stores and answer questions, find treats and win prizes.
“We look forward to having the community come down and enjoy Wickedly Westboro again this year,” says Thorne.