Do Pumpkins Have Any Use Besides Halloween Decoration?

I’m not going to answer that question here because I don’t really care. But the thought came to mind as I watched the folks of St. Joseph Missouri stack more than 800 jack-o-lanterns for PumpkinFest, plus the additional hundreds painted and glittered by school children.

The 800+ are creating a “mountain”–built out of scaffolding. This isn’t a mound, you wouldn’t be able to see the handwork if it were.

As If the Pumpkins Weren’t Enough

Add a festival, complete with pony rides and balloon animals and it’s an annual fete worth seeing.

The official schedule also called for:

  • Creepy Music from 6:00-6:30–I did not hear any however, and was disappointed
  • Story telling from 7:00-7:30–which I missed because I was staking out a good spot for the lighting of the pumpkin mountain.

Paula at Pumpkin Fest

Carving the Pumpkins

School kids work on the supplemental pumpkins–the garnish–along the ground. They’re painted and bedazzled. Older kids also carve many of the pumpkins.

Painted and Glittered Pumpkins

Local adults with artistic skill take on impressive feats like carving the Pony Express logo (who sponsors the event).

Carving Pumpkins

Businesses can have their logos carved for $250.

Logos carved on pumpkins

And convicts from the nearby prison help install the scaffolding and carve designs from patterns. Three or four come at a time and they are supervised by someone from the prison. I asked if they were having fun–they responded with huge grins. Who wouldn’t have a blast carving pumpkins, but I think this is especially fun for them. I’ve gotta say, this is the most unique work-program I’ve ever heard of.

Pumpkin Carving Tools

Before the Lighting…

Before the lighting at Pumpkin Fest

After the Lighting


Pumpkin Mountain after lighting

It’s lit with white Christmas lights

Lit pumkins at the PumpkinFest

Lit pumpkins at the PumkinFest


What design would you choose when carving a pumpkin for a display like this?
No pressure – it’s just an insight into your psyche.

Thank you to the St. Joseph Tourism Bureau for letting me know about this festival so I could shift my schedule and stay in town. It was well worth it!

11 Responses


Allowing prisoners to play with knives? Hope all carving implements were accounted for before the return trip.


Are there other uses for pumpkins besides Halloween decorations? Hmm, ask Ichabod Crane.


cat face for me


Do the convicts need to bring their own shank for carving?


Josh – well done!


BEST time of year. Man, this seemed right out of “Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin” tradition. Love the pumpkin hut pic of you!


Great photos, Paula. I had no idea that anything like this existed. The thing I used ti like about carving pumpkins was that my mom would take the seeds, place them on a cookie sheet and roast them. They were really good.

Dick – that’s one of my all-time favorite foods!

Raye beat me to the first comment that came to my mind (see comment #1 above). Other than the armed convicts, I would really enjoy this festival. The plethora of carved, lighted pumpkins looks great. I loved the pumpkin carving process when my father (an artist) used to carve ours and when we carved them for our boys. When I was in college, my dorm voted to use dorm social dues to buy marijuana (hey, it was the early 70’s). I was appalled. They placated me by allowing me to use some of the money to buy pumpkins. I’ve seen some great ones walking around our neighborhood.
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Fantastic photos! Speaking of which, I would love to see a photo somehow carved onto a pumpkin.

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