Spectators during the annual Pumpkin Patch Palooza — held Saturday at Neosho United Methodist Church Christian Life Center — enjoyed a number of events from a petting zoo, bake sale, hay rides and having their pumpkins carved from Bill Lentz of Neosho.
“I am an artist,” said Lentz. “I also do a lot of figure carving and stuff like this, in fact I taught wood carving at Franklin Tech before the [Joplin] tornado. I just stepped into it because I knew how to do it. People asked me to do that and some of them said ‘no, we will take them home and let the kids do it.’ That is good too. But we just want to have that service in case they ask for it.”
People were able to purchase different sizes of pumpkins and Lentz then worked on those. He worked for tips, which went back to the United Methodist Men for the various projects they do.
“When I first started carving pumpkins, I tried to use a knife like everybody does,” he said. “And then I found out that it can be so simple, I made some fine saw blades off of a hacksaw or something like that. You draw the face on the side of the pumpkin, saw it out, and within minutes, it is done.”
Lentz said he has between eight to 10 different pictures for customers to choose from for the face.
“It is not hard, I have had several people’s kids who wanted to carve their pumpkin, I sat them down and showed them how to do it,” Lentz said. “They are learning.”
Lentz also ask the people if they want to do with the inside of the pumpkins like the seeds.
“I ask them, ‘do you want the seeds out,’” he said. “If they don’t care one way or the other, I just leave the top on it. But if they want the seeds out, I cut the top out, I have got tools to take the seeds out. I have even had people take the seeds with them because when they set the pumpkin up, they wanted the seeds to hang out of their mouth like the pumpkin was barfing or something.”
He said the expressions on the kids when the pumpkin is finished is, “wow.”
“But they laugh, that is fun, especially when they picked out their picture, I do it on the pumpkin and they are really proud of it,” said Lentz. “If they ask me to decorate the pumpkins, I have got some paint markers. Usually the kids want to do their own decorating.”
Asked if he carves a pumpkin at his home with his wife, Sue, Lentz said, “no.”
“The carving there is when she carves it up to cook it and make pumpkin pie,” said Lentz with a smile.