The Carve goes virtual for 2020

It's a sign of the times. The Great Pumpkin Carve — Chadds Ford Historical Society’s most popular event and largest fundraiser — is going virtual for 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m obviously not happy about this,” said Jason Greenplate, the executive director of the Historical Society. “We looked at a million different ways we could try to have it without breaking [Gov. Tom Wolf’s] guidelines. We thought about drive-through at different locations, but every time we thought we were making some traction in any plan something came up. It was like, ‘Nope, can’t do it that way.’”

Jennifer Manderscheid, a member of the society’s Board of Directors and long-time event chairman for The Carve, is equally upset with the need for a virtual carve as Greenplate. She’s been involved with the event for more than 20 years and this is her 11th or 12th year as chair.

“It’s a horrible decision I had to make…It’s gut-wrenching. I kept on thinking about other possibilities. We really wanted a drive-through…but that wasn’t going to work,” she said.

Manderscheid said she starts planning for The Carve in the spring but as COVID-19 restrictions wore on and with other organizations — specifically Community Service — not being able to get involved, the event devolved this year into something that could only be done virtually. People sentenced to perform community service spend at least five days helping to set up.

“There were so many factors and other things like Community Services is shut down until January, and they are like the backbone to setting up and breaking down,” she said.

Both she and Greenplate are fully aware that this year’s carve will not make any money for the society. Had they been able to do a drive-through, Manderscheid thinks they might have been able to break even. Not now, though.

“How can I go around asking business and locals to sponsor a pumpkin when we are just trying to get back on our feet. I did not have it in my heart to start asking people for sponsorship money because they’re hurting just as much as we are. There were so many factors, I thought let’s just do a virtual.”

On the upside, there are fewer rules this year. In the past, young kids could not take part in any actual carving but now that carvers can do their carving from home, their kids can get involved if the parents say so.

Also, there are no rules about things carvers can and can’t use. Usually, no props are allowed but this year they are.

“You can do whatever you want,” Manderscheid said. “You can make a whole display of something with added gourds or pumpkins. We just want it to be fun.”

There will still be prizes, she added. Local businesses will be asked to donate prizes, and some might be 2020 related or “pandemic motivated, such as ‘Most COVID’ or something like that. That’s what we’re trying to do right now, come up with prize categories so people will know what they might be carving for,” she said.

And she said people can still vote for their favorites by liking the images when they’re up on Facebook.

Traditionally, carvers sign up and are assigned a pumpkin once they arrive at the meadow. Those pumpkins came from H.G. Haskell’s Hill Girt Farm on Creek Road in Pennsbury Township.

This year, though, the carvers will need to supply their own pumpkins, from Haskell or elsewhere. They won’t be sponsored as they had been previously. And instead of carving in the meadow with large crowds oohing and aahing, they’ll carve at home and send in a photo or short video that the Historical Society will put up on its website and Facebook page. Greenplate stressed the videos need to be short. He said carvers could send in a 30-minute video, but the society will cut it down to 30 seconds.

Those photos and videos should be submitted between Oct. 1 and 20. The images will be posted from Oct. 21 through the end of October.

To help raise some money, CFHS is asking carvers to have their friends donate to the society as a way of voting for their favorite pumpkin. There will also be a bread and T-shirt sale at the Visitors’ Center on Oct. 24.

Here are the general guidelines for this year’s Carve per Manderscheid:

  1. The event is free for carver groups of any size. Individuals, couples, groups of friends, families, etc. are all invited to carve.
  2. Carvers provide their own pumpkins-any shape, size, or color is allowed. H.G. Haskell, the owner of SIW Vegetables in Chadds Ford and supplier of our pumpkins, has many shapes and sizes for purchase at his farm stand located at 4317 South Creek Road, Chadds Ford, Pa. 19317. He also has some enormous pumpkins that can be special ordered by texting him directly on his cell 610-715-7688. A wonderful way to support a local business and get a great pumpkin, too!
  3. This year we are allowing carvers to use props, backdrops, and extra materials.
  4. No designs or creations pertaining to politics. NO EXCEPTIONS
  5. The Chadds Ford Historical Society reserves the right to remove pumpkin carvings that it deems offensive and/or inappropriate for a family event. The decision to remove a pumpkin from the “virtual” event is at the sole discretion of the Chadds Ford Historical Society. All decisions are final.
  6. Anytime between October 1 and 20, carvers will email a list of the carvers (first and last names), along with a short video, photos of the pumpkin before it was carved, photos taken while carving and a photo of the finished carving to Photos and videos will be posted to the Chadds Ford Historical Society’s Facebook page on Oct. 21, for the “People’s Choice” award judging, which ends Oct. 31.
  7. The “Help Keep Chadds Ford History Alive” category will be voted on between Oct. 21–31. Carvers will encourage friends, “fans” and spectators to make a donation to the Chadds Ford Historical Society as a way of voting for their pumpkin. The pumpkin that raises the most in donations will be awarded a prize.


About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.



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