Few things usher in the fall season like the sight of a pumpkin patch. As Halloween nears, pumpkins are carved and used to decorate doorsteps, yards and dinner tables.
This year, Bryan County residents had the opportunity to participate in local pumpkin carving contests. Whether they carved frightful, funny or fancy designs, participants showed that they can get creative and competitive with this centuries old tradition.
The North Bryan County Chamber of Commerce sponsored its first Jack-O-Lantern carving contest in Pembroke.
"We wanted to give people a project to work on as a family and enjoy a community event," said Mary Warnell, chamber president.
There were 18 entries. Several prizes were awarded according to different categories, but there was one grand prize winning entry.
Dustyn Stewart, 11, and her sister Lindsey, 13, of Ellabell, were the grand prize winners of the Pembroke contest. Their idea was inspired by a design they saw in a magazine.
"We had a lot of fun with this," said Dustyn. The sisters created mummy pumpkins by carving facial features into a large and small pumpkin and then wrapping each one with gauze.
"We will definitely enter this contest again next year," Lindsey added.
Midnight Star Pottery in Richmond Hill also hosted a pumpkin carving contest. "We thought it would be fun for the residents and a good way to market," said Cheri Wilson, co-owner.
Alex Kroken of Richmond Hill won first place for her pumpkin design.
"This was our first year doing this contest," Wilson said. "We had four entries, but hope for more next year."
Wilson and Warnell said they plan to host pumpkin carving contests again next year and expect more entries.
Modern pumpkin carving is a popular and enjoyable activity that originated centuries ago from an Irish myth. In the past, people from Ireland, Scotland and England carved scary faces into turnips, potatoes and large beets to keep away evil spirits. Immigrants from these countries brought this tradition to the United States. They soon discovered that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, were perfect for carving.
This Halloween, expect to see many jack-o-lanterns dotting porches and yards throughout Bryan County.