This year contestants were divided into three categories: professional, adult/amatuer and youth (16 and younger).
Professional first-place winner Tony Harris and Adult/amateur first-place winner Nick Young of Ooltewah used sculpting techniques for their pumpkins rather than the traditional pattern cutting style.
“Typically I like to draw. This is a new medium for me,” Young said.
Although Young has created jack-o-lanterns in the past, this is the first year he entered a contest. This is also the first time he has tried a sculpting technique; usually he uses patterns printed off the Internet to create his pumpkins, he said.
Friends and family had encouraged him to enter such a contest because they thought he had a good chance of winning. Young said this year they convinced him.
He said it was a good feeling to place in his first contest.
“I wanted to do sort of a zombie pumpkin,” he said.
The amateur artist drew inspiration from the zombie mascot of a rock band for developing his pumpkin.
Professional woodcarver Tony Harris is no stranger to pumpkin-carving contests, and has been participating in them for years. After winning the museum’s contest last year, Harris said he had not planned on entering the contest, hoping to give others a chance. However, when the Museum Center created the different categories, he decided to enter.
“I think it’s (the categories) great for the kids who participate,” Harris said.
Caricature carving is Harris’ favorite “because it makes people smile.” Harris said he never goes for a scary look with his pumpkins.
“Usually my trademark is a big, goofy smile,” Harris said.
His professional work has been displayed at the Museum Center.
First place in the youth category went to Max Trew.
Entries were judged on technique, creativity and originality by Operations Manager Ken Cagle and Curator of Collections Elizabeth Carriger. Carriger said their were 16 pumpkins displayed. Pumpkins carved by the children of museum staff were displayed, but were not eligible for the contest.
Education Curator Jennifer White said the jack-o-lanterns were displayed in front of the museum, so people could see them on the way to the block party. New for this year, the museum offered a class on pumpkin carving the day before the contest. White said this encouraged more people to enter the contest.
Each first-place winner received $50. Second-place winners received $25 and third place was awarded family museum membership. Second place in the professional category went to Michael Graham. He has also had his work featured at the museum in the past. There was not a third entry in the professional category. In the adult/ amateur category, Mary Wampler placed second, and Sarah Crane placed third. Sarah Steels and Zachary Deltart placed second and third respectively in the youth category.
The annual event is sponsored by Guthrie’s Pumpkin Farm and Corn Maze in Riceville.