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Pumpk-erations underway at Kenova Pumpkin House


The Herald-Dispatch

KENOVA, W.Va. — For a few weeks out of the year, Ric Griffith’s backyard can best be described as organized chaos.

Rice Griffith and volunteers make preparations for the annual pumpkin house display on Beech Street in Kenova.
(Herald-Dispatch photo by Lori Wolfe)

While his home on Beech Street in Kenova may be better known as the site of the now famous Pumpkin House, Griffith said it takes a fleet of volunteers putting in dozens of hours to get the job done.

“I couldn’t do it without them,” he said.

Griffith said the basis for the Pumpkin House began in 1978 but has since grown into an operation with more than 3,000 hand-carved pumpkins, including a pumpkin orchestra with synchronized music and lights.

Luckily, Griffith said that as the number of pumpkins has grown, so has the number of volunteers.

“The kids and adults that come and volunteer – they make it happen,” he said. “They come and they have fun with it, and they also take us toward the goal line in a way that we could not otherwise accomplish this.”

As of Tuesday, the roughly 3,000 pumpkins were set up in neat lines in Griffith’s backyard, each with a different hand-drawn design depicting a biblical character, a famous cartoon, a Marshall University emblem, a musical instrument or even the classic jack-o’-lantern face.

Griffith said the plan is to have the design phase complete by the time volunteers arrive Sunday, Oct. 22.

No matter a person’s size or age, Griffith said there is a job for anyone who wants to participate. From cutting an opening in the pumpkins, to scraping out the inside and carving the designs, to finally placing the pumpkins in their proper place, Griffith said it truly takes a village to get the job done.

In the week leading up to Halloween, Monday, Oct. 23, to Friday, Oct. 27, Griffith welcomes volunteers to his home to help in any way they can.

“The really neat thing about this whole thing for me is the volunteers,” he said. “I’ve met such nice people who just walk into my backyard and say, ‘How can I help?’ and they literally make it happen.”

Griffith said pumpkins are placed out and lit as they are carved and remain lit through Halloween night on Tuesday, Oct. 31.

Each year, Griffith said he is shocked that he and the volunteers are able to pull this off.

“It’s like total randomness coming together into a finished product,” he said.

While the behind-the-scenes work may be complete chaos, when it’s all said and done, Griffith said it’s worth the work.

“This task is not like getting out your Christmas lights each year or setting up some decoration that you’ve had sitting in your attic,” he said. “This is starting from scratch every year with a fragile object with a very short lifespan, and I think that’s part of what fascinates people.”

The lighting of the Pumpkin House is also part of the C-K Autumn Fest.

Food vendors will be set up at the Pumpkin House from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, and Saturday, Oct. 28, at the house.

Visit for more information about C-K Autumn Fest, which has events all over C-K from Ceredo Plaza to Mitch Stadium.

Follow reporter Josephine Mendez on Twitter @JozyMendezHD.

Get involved

Time: Volunteers are welcome after 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 22, and any time between Monday, Oct. 23, and Friday, Oct. 27.

Place: The Pumpkin House is located at 748 Beech St. in Kenova

Job description: Volunteers are needed to cut, carve and scrape pumpkins as well as supervise.

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