Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

Home · Articles · News · Art · The Lord of the Gourd/Pat Harrison
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The Lord of the Gourd/Pat Harrison

Rick Coates - October 26th, 2009
The Lord of the Gourd
Pat Harrison is a professional pumpkin sculptor

By Rick Coates 10/26/09

Carver Pat Harrison from Cedar is nicknamed “The Lord of the Gourd.” This time of the year he finds himself in high demand. But Harrison is more than just a pumpkin carver; hence his nickname. He is now known all over the state and travels to all parts giving carving demonstrations. He took time from his busy schedule to answer questions about life as a professional pumpkin sculptor.

NE: How did you get started?
Harrison: By accident. I was attempting to carve a pumpkin late at night back in the mid ’90s and I slipped with a knife and cut a hunk off the pumpkin. I thought it was ruined until I started hacking more chunks off it and realized I was onto something.”

NE: So had you seen other pumpkin carvers before?
Harrison: Not up to that point. I had never seen anyone else carve that way, but now there are many pumpkin sculptors out there, some of them incredibly talented.

NE: Who up north do you put in that category?
Harrison: In this area we have Ed Moody from Frankfort who does giant pumpkins, and Ray Villafane from Bellaire is hands-down the most talented of all carvers I’ve ever seen. Downstate there’s Tom Nardone of extremepumpkins.com and Douglas St. Souver, both incredibly talented guys. I consider myself very fortunate to be counted amongst them as pumpkin sculptors.

NE: So is it competitive?
Harrison: None of us are rivals; we’re just guys who share a love for carving. It’s funny that when I tell people up here what I do, they say ‘you’re that guy who does the big pumpkins,’ and I say ‘no, that’s Ed Moody’, and then they say ‘oh, you’re the guy that sculpts sand and won the Food Network Challenge’, and I say ‘no, that’s Ray’. It’s hard being the new guy, but I’m developing a following up here.”

NE: Okay, you said you started carving by accident, but how did you start carving professionally?
Harrison: I got my start in Oakland County living in Ortonville. I stopped at a pumpkin farm one day and my then girlfriend told the farmer I sculpted pumpkins. He asked me to do one for him and once he saw my work offered me a deal: if I’d sit at his pumpkin farm and carve as an attraction on weekends in October, he’d give me all the free pumpkins I wanted and also allow me to sell them. I never thought anything would come of it, but the Oakland Press came out to do a story one day on the farm, and saw me there and ended up putting me in the paper. Then WDIV in Detroit asked me to carve live on their station on Halloween, and I did that three years in a row. Things snowballed after that and here, 10 years later, I’m doing it full time and having a ball.

NE: Are you the same Pat Harrison who plays music around the area?
Harrison: Yes, I am a folk and blues harmonica performer; so between music and carving I’m living the dream.

NE: So after Halloween and pumpkin season ends do you carve anything else?
Harrison: I carve fruit and vegetables.My big thing after Halloween is carvings that can be cooked and eaten, and I’ll be doing hubbard squash turkeys for Thanksgiving and Santa Clauses for Christmas. My theory is that as long as I work with food, I’ll never be a starving artist, and I tell kids that it’s not just OK to play with their food, I highly recommend that they do.

NE: You are pretty popular at kids events not just for your carvings but your storytelling.
Harrison: I live in a berm house, meaning that two-thirds of it is underground and we call it the cave. I paint a pretty vivid picture in children’s minds when I tell them I live in a cave in the north woods and carve pumpkins for a living and sit on the roof at night listening to coyotes. When you sit on my roof you’re sitting in the yard. I live between Maple City and Glen Arbor and share a home with my mother Sally, who is also an artist and a live-in guinea pig for many of my cooking experiments.

NE: So describe a typical day for a pumpkin carver.
Harrison You don’t really grow up planning to be a pumpkin sculptor, it just happened that way. I get to travel to different places and meet new people every day and I absolutely love my life. A typical day for me consists of rising after four hours of sleep, and while getting dressed I watch ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown’ every day! It gets me in the mood. Then I make coffee and pack for the next show. Some of them are up to 250 miles away. My day consists of making my appearance that day wherever I’m carving, packing up, and heading for the next show. I always show up at a new gig with two fresh pre-carved pumpkins, so that means I either return home or go to my motel and carve until the wee hours of the morning. I have been going nonstop for the past two months and have already easily carved over 300 pumpkins. It’s a crazy schedule and I had bookings 23 of the first 26 days of October, but I’m up to the task and spend all year waiting for pumpkin season to return.

To contact Pat Harrison call 231-228-7355.

 
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