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JAFFREY

Carving out his niche

Trevor Hunt of Jaffrey carves 135 pumpkins in an hour on Saturday, smashing the Guinness Book World Record

  • Trevor Hunt of Jaffrey meets his goal of breaking the world pumpkin-carving record at the Keene Pumpkin Festival on Saturday afternoon.
  • Trevor Hunt of Jaffrey meets his goal of breaking the world pumpkin-carving record at the Keene Pumpkin Festival on Saturday afternoon.
  • Trevor Hunt of Jaffrey meets his goal of breaking the world pumpkin-carving record at the Keene Pumpkin Festival on Saturday afternoon.
  • Trevor Hunt of Jaffrey meets his goal of breaking the world pumpkin-carving record at the Keene Pumpkin Festival on Saturday afternoon.
  • Trevor Hunt of Jaffrey meets his goal of breaking the world pumpkin-carving record at the Keene Pumpkin Festival on Saturday afternoon.

KEENE — As his 103rd pumpkin was placed in front of him, with 20 minutes still left on the clock, Trevor Hunt of Jaffrey stood up, his black t-shirt covered in pumpkin gore, pumpkin triangles and crescent-moon smiles littering the ground at his feet. He then spread his arms with a gigantic smile aimed at the cheering crowd in front of his tent on Main Street.

The untouched pumpkin was all that stood between him and the world record for most pumpkins carved in one hour by a single person. He only stood for a second — he had a job to finish, after all. Hunt wasn’t looking to just beat the record. He was looking to smash it. He took a seat, finished off the record-breaking pumpkin, and quickly moved onto the next jack-o’-lantern-to-be. Like all the others, it was an exercise in precision and timing. Eleven sure strokes gave each pumpkin a face — two eyes, a nose and a mouth. He’d then slide each completed pumpkin to a runner, while another helper stood ready to hand him another faceless gourd.

Hunt’s hobby began in the same place most people start —in childhood, by carving the same kinds of simple design he cranked out Saturday afternoon as part of the Keene Pumpkin Festival. Like most people, he said in an interview following his world-record attempt on Saturday, he eventually outgrew jack-o’-lantern carving and moved on to other forms of Halloween mischief. But as a teenager, he returned to the hobby, only this time with a little bit of artistry thrown in.

“I’ve been carving pumpkins since I was little. Obviously, who hasn’t?” said Hunt. “I reached a point as a teenager where I didn’t do it anymore, but as I got older and more mature, I wanted to carve a pumpkin, but I wanted to do it in an interesting way. So I started to do those intricate portrait ones.”

Now, Halloween has become the time of year for Hunt, a 28-year-old real estate agent, to haul out his carving tools and make pumpkin art. Some of his best efforts take hours to produce, he said. But on Saturday, it was not aesthetics he sought. It was pure speed. Hunt carved between two and three pumpkins a minute on average, favoring a quick carving over artistry.

With the help of several local sponsors defraying the cost, Hunt had set aside 135 pumpkins of the correct weight for his record attempt. Perhaps he should have gotten a few more, because he ran out of pumpkins before he ran out of time, though only narrowly. With his last pumpkin in hand, and about three minutes left on the clock, Hunt finally slowed down, carving crescent moons for eyes, and taking playful suggestions from the crowd for the remaining features. This final pumpkin would join the rest lined neatly in rows on a grassy spot next to his tent.

It was a culmination of a lot of time, effort, and practice, said Hunt. Originally, Hunt had a larger goal in mind, he said Saturday. Last year, the Keene Pumpkin Festival fell short of the world record for the most lit pumpkins at one time by about 750 pumpkins. Hunt said at first, he wanted to bridge that gap by carving 1,000 pumpkins in 24 hours. However, that goal turned out to be prohibitively expensive, he said, so he settled for the smaller record of most pumpkins carved in one hour. He’s done several trial runs since making his decision to shoot for the record, carving for up to 10 or 15 minutes continuously, and was confident going into the attempt.

The carving was the easy part, said Hunt. The real challenge had been the preparation. Messermeister donated a new knife set to Hunt to use in the attempt. Sponsors, including the Lab ‘n Lager Food and Spirits of Jaffrey and Keene and Fenton Family Dealerships of East Swanzey, helped to pay the cost of the large pumpkins required by the Guinness World Record guidelines. Hunt and his family and friend have spent the past week sorting and weighing pumpkins to make sure each qualifies, and then were faced with the task of pre-gutting them all.

Now Hunt said, he’s faced with the really nerve-wracking part: Submitting his attempt to the Guinness Book of World Records, and hoping. “I know I did everything correctly and I know I didn’t cheat,” he said. “I also know, just from dealing with people from the Guinness Book of World Records, how picky they are. Everything has to be perfect.”

Hunt wasn’t the only world-record breaker that day. The Keene Pumpkin Festival itself fell short of the world record last year, lighting 29,381 pumpkins — just 747 less than the record of 30,128 jack-o’-lanterns set in 2006 Boston. This year, however, the Keene Pumpkin Festival brought the record home, with 30,581 pumpkins all set glowing at the same time, beating the old record by 453 pumpkins. And Hunt’s 135 were among that merrily glowing number.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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