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Carving for Kids 2022: A Change of Tradition

Carving for Kids 2022: A Change of Tradition

A message from Owner, Gavin Hepp...

I have spent a lot of time recently considering the future of our annual Carving for Kids event, and I’ve decided it’s time for the event as we’ve known it to come to a close.

Over the last couple of years, the review of the undertakings in our lives and decisions of what stays or goes has been at the forefront for many families, individuals, and businesses. These decisions are often challenging because many time-consuming commitments are still a source of joy for many. This makes it all the more difficult to let go. What will people think?  What does it say about me that I’m “quitting”?  Am I making the right decision, or am I choosing the easier path because, frankly, I need some easier mixed in?

Over 14 years we’ve carved thousands of pumpkins. I estimate 2,500 pumpkins, raising over $250,000 for MountainStar Family Relief Nursery. It’s been a wonderful ride for Travis and I — taking a very silly idea and engaging with it year after year to grow it into an event regularly raising $30,000 per year. 

costume themed Carving for Kids
The Carving for Kids team showing some spirit!

In the early days, our whole staff was involved with the process. 

Production teams would come in and clean pumpkins, carve jack-o-lanterns, dip and preserve the pumpkins, and have a fun, festive time. Even my mother, Kathy, came year after year putting her woodcarving skills to work! 

Carved logo pumpkins
A batch of carved pumpkins with logos of supporters.

As the event grew, so did the requirement for more skilled volunteerism. Most business logos carved into a pumpkin take 2 to 4 hours per pumpkin. Having to redo a pumpkin that didn’t meet the $300 price tag meant that pumpkin could take up to 8 hours to finish wholly!  With 80-plus logos to carve, that’s 160 to 320 hours of work. Over 2 days, that’s 14 skilled carvers carving for 12, sometimes 14 hours a day without a break, all while volunteering. 

pumpkin carving team
Carving team hard at work.

For 14 years, it’s been a truly valiant effort by all — and we’ve been so proud of the support.

We’d agonize over Saturday’s weather (when we sell pumpkins in person), wondering if we had enough tents. And I remember researching and testing all the various ways to preserve a carved pumpkin (learn our favorite process), and believe me, we tried them all from WD40 to lubing them all up in Vaseline!  If there’s one thing we excel at, it’s our never ending pursuit of best practices!   

It was always fun hanging out in our shop listening to music, fingers covered in pumpkin glue (the liquid released when the pumpkin skin is sliced), while nursing a cut or two and enjoying a slice of pizza. I especially loved planning which costume theme we’d be going with (Star Wars is still my favorite). 

star wars costume year
Star Wars themed costume year.

I’m very proud of what we were able to do with this unusual, silly event centered around pumpkins during these last 14 years. 

Owner, Travis Ulrich, collecting pumpkins for a past Carving for Kids. Thank you Smith Rock Ranch for always donating pumpkins!

It’s not built into law that everything we’ve done in the past needs to continue forever. We have to all say no at times, even to wonderful traditions in our life, to make space for the next chapter.

So to that end, in our 15th year, we will be evolving our typical Carving for Kids event. 

We won’t be carving pumpkins for businesses, but instead will be appreciating and supporting our Webfooters. We will source pumpkins and invite our staff, all our staff families, and some other community members to join us for a Webfoot Fall Fest hosted at our office. We’ll carve pumpkins just in time for Halloween, dress in costume as we always have, and will enjoy this annual marker as a team and family. 

The folks at MountainStar have become close friends over the years – you get to know people while sitting for hours across the table carving pumpkins. To continue our support of their wonderful organization, we’ll be matching donations up to a total of $5,000. By making space this fall we hope to come together closer as a team and get back to the early roots of Carving for Kids. 

carving for kids team.
A happy Carving for Kids team.

Both Travis and I would personally thank our customers, friends, staff, and families for supporting Carving for Kids. A big thank you to Smith Rock Ranch for the years of donating pumpkins - a contribution we couldn't have done this without. And to those who sat with us for hours and hours, year after year, carving pumpkins - that was a special time that we won’t ever forget. We invite you to join us this fall and continue your support of MountainStar Family Relief Nursery

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