On the second day of Fremont Oktoberfest — an amazing, cloudless sky, sunny day that was as good or better than any days we’ve had this short, sporadic summer — I finally got to see something I’d only heard of from friends and “Grey’s Anatomy”: the Texas Chainsaw Pumpkin Carving Contest.
Only, I had no idea it’d be such a theatrical event, with contestants dressed as a penguin, a bunny and an Air Force pilot (without the helmet).
Five contestants buzzed away at helpless pumpkins for the glory of being crowned champion. In the photo above, from left to right: Michelle the Mom, The Bunny from Green Lake, Ian (the guy in the orange flight suit), the Penguin and Betty the (Family) Butcher, a three-time champ.
Because the competition took place in the Petco Oktoberfest Village outside of the main gates, in the parking lot next to the Foundry, anyone could stop by and check it out. It took about an hour for them to each take a pumpkin, put it on a table in front of the big stage, work the chainsaw (a cordless kind that is a lot smaller than what I thought it’d be) and spew pumpkin guts and seeds 10, 15 feet away. In the war of Penguin vs. Pumpkin, the big guy was clearly the winner.
Most made quick work of the hapless fall fruit, with different variations on making funny faces, although Michelle’s pumpkin fell off mid-cutting. Using the Applause-o-Meter, it came down to a “chainsaw-off” between the Bunny and Betty the Butcher.
In the end, Betty prevailed, with an artistic rendering that didn’t go deep into the pumpkin, instead emphasizing a more delicate touch.
Otherwise, once inside the main gates, it was crowded, with thousands turning out for such a beautiful. So this day, lines were common, unlike Friday night. Especially for 21st Amendment’s Hell or High Watermelon Wheat and Baron Brewing/Three Skulls Ales’ Three Skulls Hop the Plank IPA. Those were worth the wait! The key was to make sure a drink was already in hand in the wait for those crowd-pleasers.
And for me, after all these years, Fremont Oktoberfest was worth the wait, too.