Ghost and goblins are waiting to come out for Halloween, but in Frankfort everyone comes to see the great pumpkins. Ed Moody has been carving giant pumpkins for 25 years and is a local celebrity this time of year. He has his own website, Pumpkin Ed, which has some older photos and some interesting information about his “hobby”. Ed and his wife, Ingrid, live in Frankfort, Michigan a town of about 1,500 residents. The week of Halloween, it is estimated that approximately 50,000 people visit the town of Frankfort, and they are here to see Ed’s pumpkins.
Ed started carving pumpkins when he was about six years old. Back then he carved the regular sized jack-o-lantern pumpkins. Then around 25 years ago he got into carving larger pumpkins which average around 100 pounds in size. About 18 years ago he started carving the giant pumpkins (400+ pounds) because Ed’s dream was to carve a Cinderella coach out of a giant pumpkin. Here’s a photo of one he did in 2010. Yes, that little girl is a real child and not a doll. I visited Ed’s house that year and many years since I’ve lived in the area.
He has a poster on display with his previous year’s carvings for everyone to see. But most visitors are mesmorized by the size of the giant pumpkins currently on display. This year, 2015, Ed said is the first year that he didn’t have to pay for at least one of the pumpkins. He’s been working with enough giant pumpkin growers that they’ve struck up a deal with Ed and it means that Ed can keep on carving to everyone’s delight.
The pumpkin seeds are a special variety known as Dills Atlantic Giant Seed which is the only pumpkin seed that will grow over 400 pounds. These giant pumpkins were developed by Howard Dill from Nova Scotia. According to the official website, “Howard Dill was born on July 22, 1934 and passed away on May 20, 2008 due to liver cancer. Known around the globe, Nova Scotia farmer Howard Dill was a 4-time world champion grower and creator of the famous “Dill’s Atlantic Giant” seeds which have produced world-record pumpkins weighing more than 1,000 lbs.” If you’d like to know who and where the record breaking pumpkins have been grown, check out the website.
What is the largest pumpkin ever grown? Beni Meier of Switzerland on growing a new World Record Pumpkin at 2323 lbs. Not only did Beni set a new World Record, he broke the previous record of 2032 lbs three times with each pumpkin weighing 2097 lbs, 2102 lbs and 2323 lbs, respectively. Ed’s largest pumpkin for 2015 weighs in at 1,551 pounds (shown on right) which was grown by Lew Sperry, Charlotte, Michigan.
Seeds can run up to as much as $5 a seed and as high as $500 each at benefit auctions. So Ed has made a deal with the growers that provide him with the giant pumpkins. Ed saves the seeds for the growers each year after scooping them out of the pumpkins. He takes the time to rinse the seeds with an anti-bacterial agent and then spreads the seeds out to dry. He said that if he didn’t save the seeds he wouldn’t have any pumpkins for carving.
When someone asked how long it took to carve these massive pumpkins Ed replied, “thirty one hours for my first giant pumpkin because I was so nervous, now it take about 3 hours per pumpkin.” He carves these huge monster pumpkins with one of three knives. About 90% of the time with a Chicago Cutlery Pairing Knife and the other two are a Chicago Boning Knife and a 12-inch blade filet knife. When asked why he continues to carve these pumpkins every year, his reply is one that everyone can appreciate…he does it for the smiles on everyone’s faces.
Ed started carving them on October 27th this year and will continue carving every day until Halloween, come rain or shine. I drove by yesterday and he was carving them in the rain. I stopped again today and had a chance to visit with him as he scooped seeds and carved one of the giant pumpkins. He had some help from a local guy, Shannon, who was carving one of these giant pumpkins for the first time. They were both hard at work and enjoying talking to the people that continued to stop to visit, but they but still had several more pumpkins to go.
Come see the pumpkins for yourself this Halloween. Directions to Ed’s house are easy enough, I’ve included a link to a map to his house for your convenience. You may want to swing by Stormcloud Brewing Company and check out the pumpkin he carved for them. It would be a good excuse to try one of their ales on tap. Just don’t party to hard and end up like these Halloween characters at Ed’s house. They’ve had a few to many…