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Thursday, October 5, 2006

Hit the tracks, Jack

Todd Desautels, Belkin Family Lookout Farm's resident pumpkin artist, at work on a creation. (Photo courtesy of Belkin Family Lookout Farm)


They won’t be your typical jack-o-lanterns.

For the rest of the month, Natick’s Belkin Family Lookout Farm will be the site of the Great Pumpkin Express, a train ride through a display of 3,000 pumpkins, painted and carved into all manner of artistic creations.

There will be landscapes, portraits and a 15-foot-tall pumpkin fountain. And since each carved pumpkin can only last 4 or 5 days, about 30 professional artists will be working around the clock at the farm piecing together fresh, perishable masterpieces.

They’ve tried making them last longer, said Todd Desautels, an Oxford freelance artist and the resident pumpkin carving expert.

“The best bet is to scrape from the inside most of the walls of the pumpkin to get most of the water and most of the weight off of them,” he said, offering a tip for the upcoming Halloween ritual. “Cool air is the best thing for them. Other than that, we’ve tried everything, (including) preservatives; nothing really works.”

Eventually, the festival will go through 12,000 to 16,000 pumpkins.

Farm manager John Burns says to go ahead and bring the kids. “It’s not scary at all,” he said. The family-friendly event starts today and runs through Oct. 30. Gates open at 6 p.m. and the last train will run at 8:30 p.m. The cost is $16 for adults and $12 for children. Children younger than 2 get in free.

-- John C. Drake

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