FRANKFORT, Mich. — Ed Moody puts his heart into carving giant pumpkins brought home from a fall festival in northern Michigan.
During the Frankfort Fall Festival, all eyes are on the 1,300-pound pumpkin hoisted into the air by a tractor measuring its weight.
Moody watches from the driver’s seat of the tractor as the scale’s numbers climb and the announcer calls out its weight to the crowd.
The winning pumpkin this year topped out at 1,367 pounds. But it wasn’t the star of the giant pumpkin contest. The man carefully maneuvering the tractor was.
“Have you met Pumpkin Ed?” asked Scott Bennett, a giant pumpkin farmer from Mancelona.
The biggest pumpkin farmer may head off with the prize money, but Moody, also known as “Pumpkin Ed,” enjoys the crowd that gathers at the contest and swings by his house to see the pumpkins on Halloween. By that time he has carefully carved intricate faces into the massive pumpkins.
Mike Fleser, a giant pumpkin farmer from Lansing, comes to the Frankfort Fall Festival every year. There’s a number of other fall festivals and pumpkin competitions he could enter, but he wants to support Moody.
“He’s amazing,” Fleser said.
Farmers from the contest donate their pumpkins to Moody, who takes them home to carve for Halloween. It took him several days to carve the seven pumpkins for display this year.
“It is so sweet to see people smile, of every age,” Moody told the Traverse City, Michigan Record-Eagle. “And if it does that for them, it does it twice for me.”
He estimates as many as 100,000 visitors drive and walk by to see the massive carvings on Halloween weekend.
Moody doesn’t only carve pumpkins outside his Frankfort home. He’s traveled to Hawaii for the past five years to carve giant pumpkins for charities at the Pumpkin Carving Festival in Honolulu. Immediately after returning home, he gets to work on his own display.
His designs are nothing short of elaborate. Usually they feature faces, complete with nostrils, eyebrows and teeth. The Hawaii competition has a yearly theme — 2017 was “Beauty and the Beast,” where Moody carved Mrs. Potts and Cogsworth. In 2016 he carved a teacup big enough to sit in to suit “Alice in Wonderland.”
A family friend, Dawn Sperry, recalled when she asked Moody to carve a pumpkin for her daughter’s wedding. He had been in an accident and still delivered the pumpkin on time.
“That’s the kind of guy he is,” Sperry said. “He’s got the heart.”
Moody was all smiles during the festival. He bounced around, signing checks for winning farmers and exciting the crowd before the pumpkin drop.
“It’s just fun and I hope everybody enjoys Halloween,” said Moody.
Lighty writes for the Traverse City, Michigan Record-Eagle.