by Mary Ann Heidemann–
Thursday evening, Oct. 10, is intended to begin an annual tradition. At 7:30, the Rogers City Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is sponsoring the First Annual Giant Pumpkin Lighting at the corner of Third and Erie streets, free and open to the public. Honored guests at this year’s event are Sweet Pea (traditional orange, 854 pounds) and Sugar Plum (light orange, 892 pounds), two of the three giant pumpkins grown and donated by Jim and Ouida Smythe, carefully nestled into their places of honor by city department of public works crew.
Refreshments will be available, including Ouida Smythe’s home-made pumpkin cookies, along with cider doughnuts from Knaebe’s Mmmunchy Krunchy Apple Farm. The public is also invited to bring their own pumpkin (carved, painted or plain) to add color and creativity to the autumn display. Kaelie Fessler, 4-H program coordinator with Michigan State University Extension, helped coordinate and advertise the event, and helped advise the Smythes during the pumpkin growing season.
Local artist Barb Richards from the Painted Lady has already designed faces on the pumpkins, with Jim carving them into jack-o’-lanterns using Richard’s artwork as a guide. Lighting up the pumpkins will be the evening’s capstone, according to Kim Margherio, the DDA’s event coordinator. “We’d like to make this an annual celebration,” said Margherio, “An annual pumpkin weigh-off and festival. Growing big pumpkins has become a popular hobby, and we could see people come to town from all around the state.”
Meanwhile, Advance readers might be curious to know what has become of Spankey, the third giant pumpkin grown by the Smythes. He’s over on Michigan Avenue, sitting patiently on the City Hall lawn, awaiting his time to shine. Spankey will be featured in an entire afternoon of carving, starting at noon on Friday, Oct. 18, when Ed Moody, a professional pumpkin carver from Frankfort, will take on the job of transforming Spankey into a work of art. The public is welcome to watch the process, with carving expected to continue for four to six hours.
With archery deer season already in progress and easy access from Calcite Woods into the heart of town, optimistic hunters might well fantasize about the size of buck that could make a lunch out of those gigantic pumpkins. We all know baiting is illegal, but what about art appreciation?