Botanical Gardens Hosts a Festive Pumpkin Carving Competition


Professional carvers from Food Network’s “Outrageous Pumpkins” competed in the carving competition. (Courtesy of Isabella DeRosa/The Fordham Ram)

Isabella DeRosa, Contributing Writer

Oct. 16, 2022, kicked off the New York Botanical Gardens’ two weekend “Fall-O-Ween” festival. The first event was a pumpkin carving competition with three carvers who starred on the hit Food Network show, “Outrageous Pumpkins.” The event was hosted by Adam Bierton, another famous carver. The contestants were given about four hours to carve their pumpkins following a specific theme of the Broadway musical “Wicked.”  At the entrance, guests could enter a raffle for free tickets to a performance due to sponsorship from the show.

The competition took place in the front and center of the gardens. Each of the three contestants Lenny Calvin, Alan Silva and Lincoln Bias had their own stations and plenty of pumpkins to create their top-tier Jack-O-Lanterns. Walking by, viewers were able to see every step of their work. It was fascinating to see how intricate these carvers had to be and to see the wide array of tools they used to make their masterpieces. None of the carvers seemed bothered by the attention or clicks of cameras around them. Each was in their own world of pumpkin carving, which was not only impressive to me, but helped me understand that pumpkin carving is an art form just like any other. 

To stick with the “Wicked” theme, each carver got creative with the pumpkins they used. Both Silva and Calvin had used extra pumpkins to add to their overall piece. Calvin used the stem from another pumpkin to make the horns of a goblin. Silva used several mini pumpkins to stack on top of his main pumpkin (depicted as a monkey) to add to the overall effect. He had even carved the silhouette of the Wicked Witch in one of them. The final contestant, Bias, had focused more on meticulous detail rather than adding extra pumpkins. His carving was clear as day and looked like the face was popping out of the pumpkin itself. Bierton was walking around through each stand adding commentary to lift the mood and add more information on the process of each carving. During the competition, we got to vote on who we thought was the best by placing a pumpkin seed in a cup with the name of the contestant. At the end of the competition, they counted up the seeds to see who the winner was. However, not much counting was needed as there was a clear distinction of seeds nearly filling Calvin’s cup, making his Goblin pumpkin the unanimous winner of the competition. 

During the competition, there were many things for guests to do to take a break from all of the carving. The first thing that caught my eye was a walk-through children’s adventure course. And though I might’ve been a little too old to participate, I walked through to see the activities. Along the path, I was greeted by a bunch of pumpkin statues. There were jack-o-lanterns atop scarecrows that were positioned in various ways. They had made pumpkin children, pumpkin families and even pumpkin dogs. I thought it was very cute and creative. There was also a shop filled with fall decorations as well as a garden of more pumpkins right outside. With the rest of the gardens to explore, I took the tram tour to get a full view of everything. The gardens themselves were beautiful, and although there were few flowers in bloom this season, there were plenty of trees, bushes and other plants that caught my eye. After the tour, I went to the main dining area by the entrance of the gardens. They had a cafe with a bunch of delicious fall treats to try. I frequently returned to see the progress of the pumpkins. Each time I was amazed at the skill and effort of these carvers. 

Overall, I enjoyed my time at the Fall-O-Ween Festival. Each of the pumpkins blew my mind and it was honestly difficult to choose which contestant I wanted to vote for. In the end, I voted for Silva because I thought that the little pumpkins he added on top of his main carving were really creative. I had a lot of fun exploring the gardens and seeing all of the fall activities they had to offer. This experience helped get me into the Halloween spirit and for being my first time at the gardens, I would definitely love to see more.