Ray Villafane Showcases His Art At Carefree's Enchanted Pumpkin Garden

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Photo Credit: carefreepumpkingarden.com

No Halloween is complete without a peek at American sculptor and artist Ray Villafane’s masterpieces. Since 2015, the two-time winner of Food Network’s Outrageous Pumpkins has been impressing visitors to Carefree, Arizona’s Enchanted Pumpkin Garden with his extraordinary 3-D pumpkin sculptures. This year was no exception.

Photo Credit: carefreepumpkingarden.com

Villafane and his team arrived at the beautiful Carefree Gardens in early October to get their creations ready for the 10-day free event that took place from October 20 to 29. By the time the visitors started pouring in, the spooky fruits were climbing tree houses, frolicking on rope swings, and even reading newspapers.

Pickled Carvings (Photo Credit: carefreepumpkingarden.com)

While these were certainly impressive, even more so were the “pickled” 3D carvings. Placed inside sculpted saguaro cacti to blend in with the environment, each masterpiece was steeped in a special solution that will allow the carving to last for over a year! Young visitors to the Enchanted Pumpkin Garden also had the opportunity to showcase their carving skills and obtain tips from Villafane and his team.

672-pound pumpkin carving transformed into a scary ghoul (Photo Credit: carefreepumpkingarden.com)

The highlight of the festival, however, came on Saturday October 27, when the world-renowned carver and his crew transformed a colossal 672-pound pumpkin into a spooktacular ghoul in front of a live audience. While the pumpkins were the star attraction, the festival also featured other fun activities like pie eating contests, story-telling by witches and warlocks, pumpkin arts and crafts, and face painting.

Ray Villafane guides young carvers at the festival (Photo Credit: carefreepumpkingarden.com)

Villafane’s carving skills first surfaced in 1993 after he sculpted a pumpkin for his high-school students during Halloween. The art teacher became so inundated with requests that he began selling his creations to neighborhood hotels and restaurants. In 2004, Villafane put his artistic skills to work on action figures for Marvel Comics. His "practice" design of X-Men's Wolverine as Logan, was so good it was immediately put into production. Over the next two years, the artist designed many toy prototypes, including, Sabretooth, Magneto, and The Punisher. In 2006, Villafane gave up his teaching job and went to work for DC Comics, where he remained till 2010, before leaving to pursue his true passion – pumpkin carving. The maestro has since sculpted over 2,500 gourds in 102 cities around the world.

Even pumpkins have to do chores! (Photo Credit: carefreepumpkingarden.com)

Villafane, who uses basic carving tools for even the most intricate creations, says the key to success is selecting the right fruit. The expert recommends seeking out one that is big and heavy so that there is enough flesh for sculpting. He also prefers pumpkins with lines and curves because they help add character to his creations.

Happy Pumpkin Carving and Trick-or-Treating!

Resources: carefreepumpkingarden.com, villafanestudios.com, wikipedia.org

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Reading Comprehension (11 questions)

  1. Where has Ray Villfane been carving pumpkins since 2015?
  2. Why did Villafane and his team arrive at Carefree Gardens in early October?

Critical Thinking Challenge

What Halloween activity do you enjoy the most? Why?


Vocabulary in Context

“Placed inside sculpted saguaro cacti, to blend in with the environment, each masterpiece was steeped in a special solution that will allow the carving to last for...

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  • ilovehermione22
    ilovehermione22Sunday, November 19, 2017 at 3:39 pm
    OMG That is AWESOME
    • c.i.aSunday, November 19, 2017 at 2:29 pm
      I can hear and see what you are saying. be careful
      • momSunday, November 19, 2017 at 2:28 pm
        i made all those pumpkins
        • crazy606
          crazy606Sunday, November 19, 2017 at 12:21 pm
          this is so creapy and amazing wow how do you do that so cool cavings of pumpkins
          • crazy10
            crazy10Sunday, November 19, 2017 at 12:20 pm
            that is so amazing how does he do that???????? :)
            • farywillow
              farywillowSunday, November 19, 2017 at 11:00 am
              Wow 😳😳.
              • purplepumpkin
                purplepumpkinSaturday, November 18, 2017 at 5:23 pm
                • puppydogFriday, November 17, 2017 at 10:23 am
                  that must of took billions of years to make
                  • emaeleeFriday, November 17, 2017 at 9:39 am
                    • emaeleeFriday, November 17, 2017 at 9:39 am
                      hi that is so cool i am so glad you made that vid

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