MANCHESTER, NH – If you’re a fan of the annual giant gourds stationed outside Demers Garden Center on Mammoth Road this time of year, then you’ll be excited to see what becomes of a 1,483-pound pumpkin in the right hands.
On Tuesday Moe Auger and his crew of sculptors created a two-headed jack-o-lantern with an assist early on from a group of eager pumpkin carvers who stopped by from Moore Center Services. It’s the second year in a row that the group was able to help Auger create art from a giant pumpkin.
Watch some of the carving action in the video below
The pumpkin, grown by Steve Geddes of Boscawen, had the right shape for Auger, his daughter Arin Auger, and his son-in-law Charlie Birchmeier to whittle into an impressive two-headed ghoul.
Auger, who taught middle school art in Maine for 35 years, specializes in clay sculpture, but says there’s nothing like the blank canvas a giant pumpkin provides.
“It came out pretty good,” he says, hyper-focused on sharpening the fangs on one of the faces. “The Moore Center clients were very helpful and they did a good job. I guess I gave good direction.”
As for what goes into growing a giant pumpkin, Geddes says there’s no secret sauce.
“It’s really genetics – this one’s called an Atlantic Giant, so the genetics are in the seeds. There are tricks to growing them – the bigger you want to get with them the more precise you have to be – but you have to be a very good gardener to produce a pumpkin like this,” he says.
He’s been growing big pumpkins for years, and says it was a chance meeting at the Rochester Fair a few years ago that brought him together with Auger.
“He told me he wanted to carve a big one, and so last year Charlie joined him here to carve one of my pumpkins, and the Moore Center clients came. I told him if I had an extra one this year I’d love to give it to him so the Moore Center clients could get involved again. It was so touching to see them get in there and carve away,” Geddes said.
The fun part for everyone is seeing what takes shape once the carving beings.
“Steve spent six months growing this thing, not realizing what it’s going to end up being. He gets to watch it go from seed to two-headed pumpkin monster,” Auger says.
The double-header jack-o-lantern will be on display at Demers Garden Center, 656 South Mammoth Road.