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October 31, 2013

Toddler tough judge for pumpkin carving contest

DUNCAN — Stephens County Drug Court’s Halloween pumpkin tradition was inspired by the need to instill confidence, creativity and positive goals in the participants lives.

Drug Court participants carved or decorated their pumpkins with Halloween, pop culture and various other themes for this year’s pumpkin carving contest.

The annual contest has taken place for several years.

Drug Court Administrator Sharon Cain came up with the pumpkin contest after seeing a similar contest in another government building. Cain said the Drug Court program is positive, and she wanted to do something participants could enjoy.

“The whole point is to promote family time,” Cain said.

She said it also helps to build confidence for the participants. Those who compete get to see what they can create.

Three judges, Chris Moore, Toni Hopper and Mike Anderson, also chose their favorite entries to receive gift certificates. Anderson and Hopper were returning judges. This was Moore’s first year as a judge and his toddler daughter, Lyra was named Special Guest Judge. She even picked out the third place pumpkin.

This year, first place went to a pumpkin sculpted as a monkey. Although the judges remarked about how neat the monkey pumpkin was, it wasn’t until a candle was lit inside that the decorative jack-o-lantern came to life.

“The monkey one was really cool lit up,’ Cain said.

Second place was designed with a sports theme. Portions of the pumpkin’s exterior were shaved away to create a design without carving the pumpkin. The third place pumpkin was carved and decorated as Miss Drug Court 2013.

This year, there were 39 entries. Designs included a cheeseburger and the silhouette of Batman. Another was designed to look like the titular character from Stephen King’s “Carrie.”

Cain said the pumpkin contest isn’t just significant for the participants; many of the Stephens County Courthouse employees also enjoy seeing the designs from year to year.

She said the contest is something everyone has grown to expect and appreciate. For Drug Court participants, many get to participate for two consecutive years because the participants are in the Drug Court program for at least two years.

“It’s a tradition now,” Cain said. “As long as I’m here, we’ll do it.”

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