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Arboretum at Penn State pumpkin festival packs fun for everyone

Barbara Korner points out artwork on some of the pumpkins as she and the fellow judges browse the adult-carved section during the Pumpkin Festival at The Arboretum at Penn State.
Barbara Korner points out artwork on some of the pumpkins as she and the fellow judges browse the adult-carved section during the Pumpkin Festival at The Arboretum at Penn State. CDT photo

Riley Silvis, 5, knew just what jack-o’-lantern she thought was best at the pumpkin festival at The Arboretum at Penn State on Friday night.

“Mine!” she said.

Riley’s glittery pink, blue and purple creation had plenty of competition.

According to development assistant Amanda Pruss, the arboretum gave out more than 8,000 pumpkins for this year’s event, the fourth hosted at the H.O. Smith Botanic Gardens, and the celebration grows every year. More gourds and such were piled in every corner.

The carved squash came in all shapes, sizes and designs. There were traditional spooky grins, Disney homages to “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Monsters Inc.,” Nittany Lion paw prints and delicately etched butterflies.

The Penn State student offerings were particularly artful, including a cat so intricate his whiskers seemed to twitch and a face that almost appeared trapped in the orange shell.

Younger kids answered with their own masterpieces of melted crayons, Minecraft and My Little Pony.

Riley’s little sister Stella, 1, didn’t care about categories as she entered the 2-4 age group. Maggie Silvis said she just liked playing with the paint.

The two Stormstown girls had as much fun exploring the gardens, including the Childhood’s Gate Children’s Garden.

The whole facility is decked out for the festivities, which continue Saturday with scarecrows, cornhusk dolls, puppet shows and food vendors.

“I think it is just wonderful that they do this for the community, for families and children,” said Jeani Leslie, of Seattle, visiting with grandson Nate Freer, 6.

What is Nate’s favorite thing about pumpkins?

“That you can decorate them,” he said, taking in the gourd gallery.

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