Pumpkin Wonder The Beginning
2005 display was going to be the last one for a while, I needed a lot of help and trying to think up new ideas and get new designs that no one had seen before was getting harder each year.
I recruited my friend Debbie Bott; she was in charge of the publicity and keeping me sane throughout the lead up to the event. Once again I called on my farmer friend David Hartnoll to supply the pumpkins for me and he as usual shook his head in that “you’re mad” kind of way and said “of course”.
So then I had to decide on a game plan, what I wanted the event to be, what to include and how to raise the most money we have ever gone for. After a few months of mulling over ideas I consulted my brother Simon who said.. ‘What ever your vision we can do” Yeah right … well I wanted a marquee with food and drink, I wanted a marquee with stuff to sell and a place for people to meet and chat if it was raining, the whole event was about the community and it was a good event to meet up at. I wanted to do about 200 pumpkins and I wanted something extra but I could not quite think of it. Pumpkin Wonder 2005 was born.
New for 2005
My husband Steve came up with the idea of The Haunted Garden, it was his thing to play with, he and a friend Stuart Cansfield came up with a few things and then he recruited the Fire Service guys and gals to “man” the garden. It was to be based on a story of an old sea captain and his family who lived in the house, the captain had a bad brother who had become a pirate, mysteriously the family started dying off one by one …… More about this later ..
Preparing for the event
With Pumpkins picked and stacked knee high in my courtyard I got a call from Radio Devon wanting to do an interview about Pumpkin Wonder, a lady came down and interviewed me while I carved the smallest pumpkin I had ever seen that she had bought with her. I explained what was doing and why I was doing it. It was great publicity and we got up early in the morning to hear the interview go out.
We erected the two marquees along the rear of the building and then Simon decorated them. One had a spiders web weaved over the ceiling and we filled it with Hay Bales for people to sit on, the other had black material over it making it dark and then fairy lights behind the material to make it a twinkling grotto … after hours of creating a master piece he announced he was off to NZ the day after the display so I would have to take everything down myself .. ha ha ha .. big brothers! On Sunday I held a carving party and anyone who wanted to have a go at carving a pumpkin came, we had lots of people turn up, which was great .Ian Pingram came and started to take photos of the carved ones as there would be too many to do on the night and hopefully too many people in the way to get clear shots. We achieved nearly 200 pumpkins and I was delighted at the result and quality of the carving. Everyone worked so hard.
Halloween finally arrived
The night came and so did the rain. The Chairman of the Hospice Ron Ley came to open the event with Ali Hunt, Ron saw me and said what a shame it was raining after all my work and I said have faith, after the first year I knew we would be busy and busy we were. The queue was down the road waiting for us to open. Debbie dressed up as Miss Pumpkin 2005, I was the pumpkin Queen, we had Hagrid .. you know who you are .. Wandering around giving all the kids glow sticks. We had hot food, mulled wine and hot drinks. Produce, jams, chutneys and pickles. We had gift bags donated by the Hospice and St Johns Garden Centre. Angie Cansfield and Viv Pare dressed as witches and gave out treat bags to all the kids. Someone started playing the guitar to entertain everyone in the marquees and before we knew it, it was packed out, garden, marquees and road. FANTASTIC.
The Haunted Garden
BUT the most popular attraction took over from the display. The Haunted Garden. Leigh Blanning dressed up as The Deathly Butler tour guide and guided people around the garden telling the chilling tale of the Sea Captain’s life. As you entered you were greeted by an eerie mist that rolled around the garden, you were stopped on the path to look at carved pumpkins of the family and from behind you hands and spiders grabbed at you and tickled you. Then on to the patio where a gruesome figure jumped out from behind the curtains inside and another ran out from a gate across the patio. Then onto the garden to look at the gravestones of the family, all the while being told the chilling tale, a screamer goes over head, dead dummies lying around, and on to the separated garden where the Pirate was buried. In the dimly lit garden there was a coffin (Stuart had made a full size coffin, fully lined!!) it was half buried in the ground with a tomb stone behind it, gingerly you leant in looking at the gave stone thinking something would jump out, 2 or 3 people would go past and then out from the coffin would jump Stuart, he stayed in it all night, said it was very comfy! On the way out were 2 dummies lying against each other, only one of them was real, 2 or 3 people would go past and then Gordon Pare who played the dummy sprang up and said “did you have a good time?” in a gruff voice ! The screams that came out from the garden were fantastic, they drew in more people wanting to take a look, we originally banned kids in case it was too scary but in the end all the family were going through and I really am not too sure who was more scared! Despite the rain the queue for the haunted garden was down the road and it was enjoyed by everyone who dared to enter.
Pumpkin Wonder 2005 comes to an end
The whole night was a huge success; it was great to get such positive feedback from the night. Next year is a year off …..