Guest post by Rita Barnes
It was a beautiful sunny day without the slightest hint of rain – the kind of day where you’re warm in the sun but there’s that cool breeze occasionally breaking the heat. With such pleasant weather and the fun festivities, it finally felt a little bit like fall right here in Orlando. Overall, the conditions were ideal for spending an afternoon at Orlando Brewing watching the GUTS Orlando pumpkin carving contest.
In the early hours of the event, the carvers worked furiously to complete their pumpkins in the time limit they’d been set. They did this while allowing spectators to loop the tables, peek over their shoulders, ask questions, and in many cases snap a photo or two. For the younger spectators, the tables were doubly fun to visit with their candy bowls offering an early Halloween trick-or-treating experience – especially for those who’d visited the face-painting station and were “in costume.” Children were also asked to contribute their creativity at the tables set for them to color and decorate their own paper plate pumpkins. The over twenty-one attendees were invited into the brewery for locally brewed libations and a chance to sit and socialize. And everyone, regardless of age, was encouraged to visit the photo booth or create their own GIF’s to share on social media.
At various intervals, the crowd was beckoned to the stage area for opportunities to meet some of the amazing children who’ve been granted wishes by the Make-A-Wish® Central Florida foundation – the recipient of all proceeds from this creative fundraising event – and for chances to win raffle prizes. While the raffles gave some lucky winners gifts to take home, it’s the stories of the children we were introduced to that gave us all the greatest memories to take away from the day.
When 5:30 pm struck the clock the carving was halted and the judging and silent bidding began. At the end of the night, the highest bidders for each entry got to take the pumpkins with them to decorate their own homes this Halloween while the money they spent went directly to Make-A-Wish® along with every other dollar collected. Among the finished displays was a whimsical pumpkin taking a selfie complete with arms and the cell phone, an entire string of pumpkins each carved with a letter to spell out “TRICKY!”, jack-o-lanterns whose lids were removed to expose their brains, and a set of three non-traditional pumpkins showing a witch’s face, a spooky feline, and a smoky Halloween greeting.
After the judges had come to a conclusion and the spectators had cast their votes – each was given a washer upon entry to place on hidden dowel rods numbered to correspond with the team or individual they wanted to win – the winners were announced finally as the sun was beginning to set. There were two awards, but only one winner this year. Team ‘Oh My Gourd’ walked away with the judges’ prize and the people’s choice award. Theirs was the smoky triple display of pumpkins with the witch, the cat, and the ‘Happy Halloween’ message.
The night didn’t end with the awards ceremony though. More raffles followed, along with plenty more time for drinking, eating, coloring, and taking photos in the booth. All-in-all, GUTS Orlando was by far one of the most unique Halloween themed events of the year. Where else do you get the feel of a fall festival, candy, locally crafted beer, pumpkins being carved by professional designers right before your eyes, and a chance to judge them for it?
Check out more photos from the event on Flickr!