According to Smelko, whether you’ve been to Pumpkinferno before or not, 2016 will be the year to attend.
In an interview with Ottawa Tourism, Smelko noted that there are “all kinds” of new elements to Pumpkinferno this year. Among them is a new display entitled A Night at the Gallery. In this art museum-style display, Smelko said the team at Pumpkinferno has recreated some famous portrait paintings in huge dimensions. “They’re eight feet by twelve feet,” Smelko said, adding that this is one of her favourite parts of Pumpkinferno this year.
Also, she noted that some of the displays will have motion effects, which hasn’t been previously done. “So some displays will move,” she said. “They’re not just static.” She also added that this year, Pumpkinferno will offer a new sound and light show with a Jail House Rock theme. “If you’ve been to Pumpkinferno before, you haven’t seen anything yet,” Smelko said.
If you’re not familiar with Pumpkinferno; this harvest time event features about 7,000 hand-carved pumpkins that are arranged into several glowing, larger than life themes and sculptures, which are placed throughout the charming 1860’s Upper Canada Village. This popular and family-friendly festival is going into its fifth year.
Smelko said that she’s been involved with Pumpkinferno since its inception in 2012. “I was a carver and assistant designer for four years,” she said. Smelko explained that a small team of carvers works with a graphic designer all summer to bring these fantastic creations to life. She said that this year, the Pumpkinferno team consisted of only six carvers, two labourers and a graphic designer. “It’s such a small team and it’s so cool because we can do such a big thing,” she said. “We’re working all summer to this end product and then we get to display it.”
Smelko noted that what people seem to like best about Pumpkinferno is its uniqueness and the level of detail that can be seen in the carvings. “People are really impressed by the level of detail,” she said. “Some of the displays are so huge, it makes people wonder how it was done.” She added that this year, Pumpkinferno will also feature a new dragon sculpture. According to Smelko, this new sculpture is about 25 feet long and 16 feet high. “We probably spent about a week to two weeks putting it together,” she said.
Smelko told Ottawa Tourism that a special tool is used to create the various detailed carvings. She said the tool allows a pumpkin to be sanded down or entirely carved through. “[The tool] creates tone and depth and also, shadows and highlights,” Smelko said. “So we can really work with what the designer gave us and try to make it as cool as we can.” She added that depending on the complexity of a sculpture’s design, a single pumpkin could take five minutes to five hours to carve.
In terms of the fall season in Ottawa and its surrounding region, Smelko said that the best part is the crisp breeze and the beautiful fall colours. “It’s getting cooler, so you start to find ways to stay warm,” she said. She noted that a great fall activity is getting a hot chocolate and going for a walk to enjoy the fall colours. “That’s probably my favourite part,” Smelko said.
Thinking of seeing Pumpkinferno for yourself? It runs Thursday through Sunday evenings at Upper Canada Village until Oct. 30. Entry for children five years old and younger is free.
Smelko noted that Pumpkinferno doesn’t have much to do with the 1860’s but, Upper Canada Village provides the perfect backdrop for the glowing displays. “It’s magical,” she said.