Pumpkin carving as an art form

Hugh McMahon’s portrait of Hillary Clinton sat in the White House when husband Bill was president. His art work has been featured in magazines and on TV. But McMahon’s  work is no ordinary art form. He carves pumpkins.

Hugh McMahon carves celebrity and other images in pumpkins
Hugh McMahon carves celebrity and other images in pumpkins

He points out that now there are lots of pumpkin carvers but that wasn’t true years ago. “I’ve been doing it for more than 40 years. That was before the growth in pumpkin carving,” McMahon said.

He added,  ”I did a turkey for Ronald Reagan when he was president.”

It takes him about half an hour to an hour and a half to do an average size pumpkin. A portrait may take him two hours. When asked about the largest one he carved, McMahon recalls working on a 1,500 pound pumpkin.  “At the time it was a world record. I turned it into a gorilla like King Kong.”

Folks can see McMahon at work at the Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival that runs downtown the north suburban city Oct. 7-9, 2016. Proceeds from a $3 admission and all food, drinks and rides will go to Make-A-Wish Illinois.

The event is also an attempt to break the Guinness Book of Records for number of jack-o-lanterns (carved pumpkins). Attendees can bring a pumpkin already carved or one to carve there or a pumpkin for someone else to carve. They can see what McMahon has carved, watched him carving and even ask him questions while he carves. He doesn’t mind. “Kids love to watch me carve,” McMahon said.

For more about Hugh McMahon visit HMcMahon. For other festival information visit Highwood Pumpkin Fest.