Writer Amanda Christmann

Photography Courtesy of Town of Carefree and Villafane Studios

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e all know our little corner of Arizona is home to some of the most wonderful weather, people and things to see and do in the country, and the Town of Carefree is no exception. Beyond breathtaking views and brilliant night skies, Carefree is known for its sundial, its fabulous resorts, and something a bit unexpected here in the desert: pumpkins.

For the fifth year, master sculptor Ray Villafane and the Villafane Studios team will be creating their Enchanted Pumpkin Garden to celebrate the magic of the season. Carefree Desert Gardens will once again come alive with October’s most colorful (and rotund) residents Oct. 18 through Oct. 27.

Villafane is a world-renowned pumpkin and sand artist, and once again, he’ll be carving out some imaginative fun with his animated pumpkin vignettes. In fact, they’re the talk of the town when October rolls around. 

This year’s festival promises to be the biggest and most wonderful yet, with demonstrations, live music, pie-eating contests, costume contests for both humans and pets, and a host of other activities. 

Everyone will have a gourd time Friday and Saturday nights, when Valley favorites take the stage. The Walkens Band; American Idol Season 17 favorite Wade Cota; and Steve Miller tribute band Pompatus of Love, featuring Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Steve Miller Band guitarist Greg Douglass, are among the fantastic performers.

Every year brings something new to the Enchanted Pumpkin Garden, and the town will be spicing things up in 2019 with the debut of the Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off Saturday, Oct. 19 at 11 a.m. on Community Stage, just outside of Carefree’s Historic Spanish Village.

The Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off is expected to attract the chunkiest pumpkins in the state, thanks to the town’s partnership with Arizona Giant Pumpkin Growers Association. Hopefully this year’s crop of colossal squash will break a world record—and you can be part of the fun!

All of the pumpkins entered in the Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off will remain at the Enchanted Pumpkin Garden, where Villafane and his team will do their magic and turn them into delightful characters before our eyes

Other highlights of this most happy, haunted weekend are Bashas’ Adopt-a-Pumpkin patch, where proceeds will benefit Desert Foothills YMCA; the Four Peaks Brewery Jack-o’-Lantern Beer Garden operated by Sonoran Arts League volunteers; the Harvest Market with some of the best fall-themed treats in the Southwest; and the Haunted Happenings area with activities for the whole family to enjoy.

Don’t miss this year’s Enchanted Pumpkin Garden! Admission is $15 per person Friday through Sunday, and $10 per person Monday through Thursday. Children two years of age and under are admitted free. 



Carefree Enchanted Pumpkin Garden

October 18–27 | See website for schedule | Carefree Desert Gardens | 101 Easy St., Carefree | Free | 480-488-3686 | carefree.org | villafanestudios.com