Pumpkin Festivals

unlessI really don’t want to be THAT guy: the dour Fremen spoiling the party … but

I recently ran into some photos of a pumpkin festival which left me feeling literally sick to my stomach.

They happened to be photos of a festival in Dallas but it could have been a display of pumpkins from any place in the United States that does this kind of thing.

An image popped into my mind of someone not saying, “Let them eat cake,” exactly but something possibly worse … more like … “Let them look at pumpkins.”

spectacle emergency (2)A perfect example of Spectacle Society.

Pumpkin festivals started out as fun events. But is there a place for them today? Where we are losing topsoil faster than we can make it? Where our state uses irrigation to mitigate a drought? Where the vast majority of our children receive free and cost reduced lunches at school because their parents can’t earn enough money to even supply their families with food?

I can’t imagine a more tone deaf activity. And of all the fruits it had to be pumpkins: heavy, heavy feeders needing a lot of space and water to grow. A crop that makes such poor animal feed that even pigs will turn their snouts up and away. Most of these pumpkins will just rot into compost in the best scenarios … or be thrown into landfills in the worst.

Maybe we ought to re-think the idea that it is somehow cute or even acceptable to use land, water, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, human labour and fossil fuels to create a spectacular but temporary display. 65 000 pumpkins for just one city’s display. How many pumpkins are grown and wasted across the country?

Here’s a challenge to the organizers and admirers of these things: I dare you to use your creativity to create something truly beautiful instead of a colossal pile of waste.

I think Robert Jensen is correct“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” (Jeremiah 8:20.) Unless we start caring and unless we stop biggering there can be no hope for this planet.

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16 thoughts on “Pumpkin Festivals

  1. I’ ve often wondered what giant pumpkins are for, apart from showing off with. I didn’ t know you have pumpkin festivals over there. As you say, an obscene use of resources. And I still don’ t know what they are for.

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    1. I can only guess that people grow giant pumpkins with the same spirit as someone climbing a mountain. They see it as a challenge to overcome. I don’t even really see the appeal of going to a place and seeing mountains and mountains of pumpkins on display. If I worked past the horror of the waste it would just kind of be boring. Oh, look: another pumpkin …

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  2. Excellent, excellent post, Debra. I’m sure everyone could easily come up with multiple similar examples of mindless, clueless waste, but here is one that came to me right away, that I encountered a couple of years ago….a convenience store chain was having a contest between all their stores to see which franchise could sell the most cases of BOTTLED WATER….oh, heavy, heavy sigh…..

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    1. Thanks, Cnawan. Pumpkin festivals are happily only seasonal but bottled water is all year long and that industry is all kinds of evil. That’s a great point.

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  3. You all make good points and bring up a perspective that I had honestly not considered.

    I passed by an annual pumpkin “patch” display today that typically hosts hordes of preschoolers with parents in tow and actually had an opposite sort of reaction. It seemed a telling relic of days when everyone would probably have had their own pumpkin (or some form of winter squash), home grown. A time when the very hard work of harvest would be halted temporarily to celebrate a time of year when the shifting seasons yielded great bounty. Great sweet bounty. Because (at least until I read this) I see all that pumpkin and think only one thing:pie.

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    1. Being grateful for a harvest is a good thing. Taking kids to working farms so they understand how plants grow is commendable. But those pictures I saw of the Dallas event just looked emblematic of our worst practices.

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  4. The use of perfectly good food as porch ornaments has troubled me for years. It’s right up there with the need to buy a suite of patio furniture including carpets and heaters and … and… and…

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    1. I will admit to carving a pumpkin most years. It wasn’t until I saw the huge collection of Dallas pumpkins that I saw just how wrong it could be.

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      1. Yeah, I’ve carved my share of pumpkins so can I gripe about it? I suppose my complaint is the scale of the endeavour. Dozens of pumpkins and assorted winter squash that adorn a stairway, for example. Too much. In my humble…

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        1. I’ve always been a little math-impaired (finding numbers hard to imagine) but -seeing- what 65 000 pumpkins looked like provoked a response that I can only describe as horror. The planet is in a state of emergency and THIS is what we are doing. THIS is where we are putting our energy and imagination. To be honest one of the saddest things is that the displays were unworthy of the effort — not even rising to the level of kitsch. I can imagine a scenario where an artist could create something meaningful or celebratory using food but that didn’t happen here.

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  5. You know, I had the same thought. I was hoping also not to be “that guy” but I kept thinking “What a colossal waste of…everything.” Does the the whole display of pumpkins go into the landfill once done? Or are all those pumpkins composted? And your point about the amount of water wasted for this display. Good post–I wish there were more who questioned this type of “horticulture.”

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    1. Heh. I was discussing this with my husband and actually used the words: I don’t want to sound like a Fremen. He said (and it kind of reminded me of Matt Smith’s ‘bow ties are cool’ line) Fremen are cool. It is better to be a Fremen than a Harkonnan.

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