Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania has long been known for its rich artistic history. While it is best known as the home town of world-famous artist Andrew Wyeth and the entire Wyeth family of artists (including the great illustrator NC Wyeth, who lived in Chadds Ford before his death in 1945), Chadds Ford has also inspired a plethora of local artists. Indeed it is a charming town, littered with tiny galleries and unique art shops.
So it is no wonder that Chadds Ford’s annual Halloween extravaganza, the Chadds Ford Great Pumpkin Carve, brings all of the local artists from out of the woodwork. The Great Pumpkin Carve, which has been an annual tradition since 1970, was originally a small event started by a couple of local artists, including some of the Wyeth’s. In the early days, the event took place in front of the historic Chadds Ford Inn. Interest in the event grew over the years and it moved to a larger location at the historical society, where it has remained since the early 1990’s.
This event, which takes place over the course of 3 days, is a huge deal in the area. The pumpkins are grown and supplied by a local farmer- and these are no ordinary pumpkins! The pumpkins are huge, most of weighing in anywhere from 100 pounds to 400 pounds. Area artists and a few novices gather to carve the pumpkins, which are then put on display and judged for prizes by a distinguished panel of local judges. Most years, you can expect to see about 70 local artists competing in the competition. And these are not your run of the mill carved pumpkins – most of the pumpkin carvings are extremely elaborate and intricately planned out.
This year, the festivities begin on October 26th, on the grounds of the Chadds Ford Historical Society. It is there that local artists will gather to carve their unique and unusual designs, which in past years have ranged from themed designs to scary faces to detailed two-dimensional designs. The artists use tools and mini saws and chisels to carve out their visions and it is really a sight to see. The carving usually begins around 5:00 and lasts for several hours. Visitors are welcome to watch the artists as they carve and at 8:30, the judging takes place.
For two nights afterward, on Friday and Saturday October 27th and 28th, the pumpkins are displayed and lit with candlelight from 5 PM until 9 PM. It is truly an awesome sight, to see these elaborate pumpkins all lit up in the meadow. Food and drinks are available, and there is also live music and hayrides. The great Pumpkin Carve is an event that is highly anticipated by locals and it’s a great way to get a taste of Chadds Ford’s unique artistic history.
To celebrate Halloween even further, on October 25th there is also an “All Hallow’s Eve Preview Party”, which includes an outdoor dinner, beer and wine, a bonfire and live music. This is the kick-off to the pumpkin carve festivities and a great way to get yourself in the Halloween spirit. Reservations are required for this event, which costs $35.00 per person (or $50.00 per couple).
Planning to go? The Chadds Ford Great Pumpkin Carve is located in the meadow adjacent to the Chadds Ford Historical Society, which is located at 1736 North Creek Road. The phone number is 610-388-7376. Admission is $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for children age 7 to 12, and children under 7 are free.
Other tips? Bring a flashlight so you can maneuver your way through the dark meadow carefully, and wear weather-appropriate clothing and shoes (it can get cold out there, and you will want to wear sturdy, comfortable shoes for walking).