Pumpkins glowing in the dark, eyes keeping a look out for the night’s goblins to come passing by. Some of them hang from trees and others line the stream sitting on the bank. The glow of their eyes reflecting on the water. People walk by taking comfort in their watchful gaze, keeping scary things away from them.
I’ve visited the Cilley Hill pumpkin festival a few times over the years. . This isn’t a quick and easy trip and I rack up 447 miles round trip, all in one day! The Cilley Hill Pumpkin Festival happens in Jericho each Oct. 30-31. The Squire’s grow around 400 to 600 pumpkins each year for the annual festival, which takes place after sundown on Cabbage Night and Halloween.
Last year I pulled up and Ann and Richard Squires were preparing the pumpkins for the lighting of the candles. In 2007 the first time I was there, it was cold but clear and staying warm was the order of the day. last year the rain was was misting down and the temps were again very chilly. The Squire’s neighbors and a local scout troop spend the weeks leading up to Halloween carving the pumpkins, which are then creatively displayed all along the neighborhood road.
This day was a rainy one, that would be chilling the volunteers to the bone. It soon was apparent that that today the greatest battle would be to keep the candles lit. I didn’t get all the names of friends, neighbors and family who were trying to get the pumpkins lit. Liam Redman was one of the younger fire starters along with Mary Novotny and Terry Keim. I apologize again to all those volunteers who I don’t know.
What I love is the community and family spirit at this event. Friends and family all stop by to help carve, place, and light the pumpkins. Some of the locations require a cat like dexterity that I have to admit would be a little tough for me to get to.
Even so, as the light fades the folks young and old scurry across the hills and streams, placing pumpkins. They even spell out happy Halloween along the dike at the top of the ravine where a pond sits. Everybody pulls together and for the past 17 years they have been putting on this event without any pay, just doing it for the pleasure of entertaining all who stop by.
They have pumpkins on posts as far as the eye can see, they even had one in a tree. They have pumpkins on platforms filling fields and if the river permits they have pumpkins in the river on platforms which take canoes to get to. I have to admit with my love of reflections, that the pumpkins that line the river are my favorites. My next favorites are the ones they get hung in trees.
This year they added four giant pumpkins to the mix and the largest weighing in at around 700lbs. All have been carved and lit but they used electric lights instead of candles due to size needed to really light them. One of the pumpkins was carved by Terry Keim and when I asked about the method he just said “he was a hacker” and I assumed he used a projector to put an image on the 400lb pumpkin. He said “no, he did it by hand” and I said looking at the pumpkin that he was an artist, because this wasn’t easy to do. He shies away from being labeled an artist as he doesn’t feel what he does is art. It may not make it into a museum but it was entertaining for the rest of us.Jeff "Foliage" Folger You can purchase images by visiting my Fine Art Gallery websites
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I live in Salem, Massachusetts and work as a blogger and Travel Photographer. I'm also the founder of the New England Photography Guild.
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I started with Yankee Magazine as their first blogger on everything fall foliage. Now I blog on my own blog on my favorite subject, telling leaf peepers where the fall foliage is showing up in New England and helping them (to some extent) plan their fall foliage vacations.