CFHS carves out coveted fall tradition

Anyone over the age of 40 likely knows the television special “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” which first aired on Oct. 27, 1966, and became a smash hit, with whimsical scenes of kids carving jack o’lanterns accompanied by the inspired jazz piano of Vince Guaraldi.


In addition to an array of creatively-carved pumpkins, visitors can explore the Haunted Trail at The Great Pumpkin Carve.

It’s hard to believe that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the special, which has now become a cherished part of the fall repertoire. That same seasonal anticipation has come to be associated with the Chadds Ford Historical Society’s The Great Pumpkin Carve. This year’s annual celebration of autumn will be held Thursday, Oct. 20, through Saturday, Oct. 22.

Carving and decorating pumpkins have their roots in England, but have been popular in America for nearly two centuries. The practice received greater recognition here in Chester County when Andrew Wyeth began crafting his creations in the 1970s at the historic Chadds Ford Inn – now Brandywine Prime. Along with his son Jamie, he sculpted enough beguiling figures to attract huge crowds, eventually needing a larger space to display them.

Yoda, an award-winning 2015 creation, set the bar high for this year's competitors.

Yoda, an award-winning 2015 creation, set the bar high for this year's competitors.

In 1992, the annual celebration moved up the road to the grounds of the Chadds Ford Historical Society, where thousands of people have enjoyed the cleverly designed handiworks lit by candles at night. Today, these strange-looking gourds are transformed by talented artists into a beguiling variety of fanciful shapes and take their places in an enchanting pumpkin patch for everyone to see.

The largest ones weigh in at several hundred pounds, providing an entertaining and photogenic backdrop for photographs of the entire family. The ever-popular Haunted Trail stands nearby, offering parents and kids the opportunity to wander among spooky ghouls, ghosts and goblins enveloped by eerie music.

On Thursday, Oct. 20, visitors will get to watch the carvers at work.

On Thursday, Oct. 20, from 5 to 9 p.m., visitors will get to watch the carving masters at work.

On Thursday, Oct. 20,  from 5 to 9 p.m., visitors can watch the artists in action as they bring the pumpkins to life, illuminated to highlight their amazing features. This year more than 50 gifted carvers will be creating beautiful displays that will please even the most discriminating viewer.

The pumpkins will be on display on Friday, Oct. 21, from 5 to 9 p.m. and on Saturday, Oct. 22, from 3 to 9 p.m. In addition, there will be hayrides, live music, food and beverages along with selected arts and crafts. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 7 to 17, and free for CFHS members and children 6 and under.

The CFHS is offering a variety of sponsorship levels to fit any budget - from an overall event sponsor to sponsoring an individual pumpkin.  Sponsors receive recognition at the event as well as other benefits and also will be supporting the society in its goal to preserve and maintain the local history of Chadds Ford for generations to come.  For more information, click here.

The Chadds Ford Historical Society is located at 1736 Creek Road in Chadds Ford, a short distance from Route 1. For more information, contact the society at 610-388-7376 or visit its website at


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About Gene Pisasale

Gene Pisasale is an historian, author and lecturer based in Kennett Square, Pa. His eight books and historic lecture series focus on the history of the mid-Atlantic region. Gene’s latest book is Alexander Hamilton: Architect of the American Financial System, which delves into the life and many accomplishments of this important Founding Father who almost single-handedly transformed our nation from a bankrupt entity into the most successful country in the history of mankind. Gene’s books are available on His website is; he can be reached at



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