A giant task: Carving 1,000-pound pumpkins

A monstrous pumpkin carving
Cats and bats and monsters, oh my! Kathy Haubrich squeezes all the Halloween monsters onto one pumpkin
Courtesy of Kathy Haubrich

Kathy Haubrich doesn't just carve pumpkins. She carves giant pumpkins.

These are the ones that you see at the State Fair — the one-ton monsters that the average adult could fit comfortably inside.

"Oh, yeah, I've crawled inside them," Haubrich said. Sometimes she has no choice but to climb into her creations to finish the details.

Kathy Haubrich inside a giant pumpkin
The giant pumpkins Kathy Haubrich carves are large enough to fit inside.
Courtesy of Kathy Haubrich

Their sheer size gives Haubrich a large canvas to work with — but it also presents logistical issues. After she picks up her giants at Exotic Pumpkins in Andover, Minn., she has to leave them in the back of the pickup truck to carve. They're too heavy to move.

She brings out all the table lamps from her house and plugs them in while she works late.

If you think cleaning out standard-sized pumpkins on your porch is bad, imagine hundreds of pounds of seeds and strings. Last year, she hurt her shoulder from all the scooping.

But it's worth it. For Haubrich, the giant pumpkins aren't just a hobby — they've helped her with a family mission. Her mother was paralyzed with polio several decades ago, so outings are tricky.

Last year, Haubrich found a special cargo bike for sale in Portland, Ore., which would allow her to take her mother out for a ride. The shipping costs, however, were more than she could afford. By a stroke of luck, she found a long-distance trucking company that was willing to trade freight charges for a few giant carved pumpkins.

"I just never could have imagined where pumpkin carving has taken me," she said. This Halloween, she'll be in the KARE-11 studios carving likenesses of some of the news anchors. Those pumpkins, however, are tiny by Haubrich's standards: only about 80 pounds — anything bigger would take too long.

A Medusa pumpkin carving
Don't look for too long: Kathy Haubrich carved Medusa into a large pumpkin.
Courtesy of Kathy Haubrich

Carving is only one of Haubrich's artistic outlets — but all of them are ephemeral. Her pumpkins eventually rot, her snow sculptures melt, and the cakes she decorates at the Dairy Queen franchise her family owns end up being eaten. But she's okay with that.

"It's all fun while it lasts."

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