Carefree Hosts Great Pumpkin Commonwealth Weigh-Off During Enchanted Pumpkin Garden Event

This weekend, Carefree’ s Enchanted Pumpkin Garden becomes even more exciting with the addition of an official Great Pumpkin Commonwealth weigh-off. Several of the best giant gourd growers in the Southwest are bringing their obscenely large, fascinating, ginormous orange orbs to town Saturday, Oct. 19, 11am, at the Community Stage outside of Historic Spanish Village, 7211 East Ho Road in Carefree. Admission for the weigh-off event is free and is open to the public.

This event is in partnership with the Arizona Giant Pumpkin Growers Association with prize money awarded to the heaviest pumpkins attending. Winning pumpkins will be turned into fantastic Halloween creations by master carver Ray Villafane and the carving team at Villafane Studios during the festival.

The Town of Carefree Fifth Annual Enchanted Pumpkin Garden is a one-of-a-kind fall festival celebrating the magic of the Halloween season. The 2019 event takes place Oct. 18–27, with the incredible artistry of Ray Villafane and Villafane Studios’ carvers on display live each day, and their carvings found throughout the four-acre Carefree Desert Gardens. On weekends, this annual event boasts magical Halloween activities for both kids and adults, plus culinary delights and autumnal refreshments including a beer garden, a harvest market and live music.

There is no cost to attend the Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off. Entry to the Gardens and Haunted Happenings attractions will require an event wristband at an additional charge. Admission to the Enchanted Pumpkin Garden is $15 Friday–Sunday; $10 Monday–Thursday. Children 2 and under enter for free. Free parking is available in and around the Gardens, and throughout the downtown area. For additional information, visit www.enchantedpumpkingarden.com/giant-pumpkin-weigh-off.


Cover photo: Desert Hearts Photography-Tiffany Copeland

Enchanted Pumpkin Garden Returns for Fourth Year

Enjoy live carving demonstrations and magical Halloween festivities

Visit Gourdy Gooligan and his Carefree Hooligans at this year’s Enchanted Pumpkin Garden. Photos courtesy of Villafane Studios

Halloween invades the Town of Carefree in the form of whimsical pumpkin carvings from master sculptor Ray Villafane and the Villafane Studios team for a fourth year. The Enchanted Pumpkin Garden, a free admission, one-of-a-kind fall festival celebrating the magic of the season, takes place Oct. 19–28, with the incredible artistry of Villafane Studios on display throughout the four-acre Carefree Desert Gardens in Downtown Carefree.

Voted “Best in the Valley” fall event in 2015 and 2016 by Phoenix Magazine, the event invites visitors to experience the many new mischievous pumpkin characters, artfully imagined and frolicking in their enchanted garden home. In addition to the playful pumpkins and holiday vignettes, Villafane and his team will carve 10 3-D pumpkin faces, which are preserved and displayed in tanks that resemble Saguaro cacti. Another popular attraction is the giant pumpkin on display for visitor photos, with Villafane handling the carving chores the second weekend of the event. Villafane’s team of carvers will create new offerings daily throughout the garden.

Highlights include two family-instructional carving nights with Villafane Oct. 25–26, sponsored by Desert Foothills YMCA. Costume contests for children, family/group and adults will be held Saturday, Oct. 27, and a pet costume contest will be held Sunday, Oct. 28, sponsored by Carefree Pet Resort. Other popular activities include the Bashas’ “Adopt a Pumpkin” patch; a pumpkin pie eating competition, with pies provided by Venues Café; a Harvest Market, featuring vendor goods and autumnal treats; a beer garden featuring craft beers provided by Four Peaks Brewery and wine; culinary food trucks; and a new weekend Haunted Happenings area, where for a $5 fee visitors will enjoy a petting zoo, pony rides, a haunted house, corn maze and other family-friendly attractions. Other special events will round out the week.

Based in Arizona, with a workshop and gallery, Villafane is an internationally acclaimed American sculptor who has travelled throughout the globe fashioning exceptional figures and scenes out of pumpkins, sand and snow. Villafane has been called, “the Michelangelo of pumpkin carving,” by Martha Stewart, carved for the president at the White House, and has appeared on numerous national TV programs as well as holding two entries in the Guinness Book of World Records. For information about Ray Villafane and Villafane Studios, visit www.villafanestudios.com.

For more information about the Enchanted Pumpkin Garden event, call 480.488.3686 or visit www.carefreepumpkingarden.com.

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