A birthday celebration at Dark Horse for our pal Wiseguy included an unexpected review of super ninja pumpkin carving skills while enjoying a tasty beverage.
Pumpkins and Hunter S. Thompson
The ghost of Hunter S. Thompson loomed large over our table at Dark Horse Brewing in Marshall as we feverishly fought for control of the jukebox. Great Scott Man! Did someone just play Jason Aldean?? This birthday celebration must have a soundtrack full of 80’s classic rock and a sharp shot of heavy metal music. The meaner the metal, the better. Dr. Gonzo, get on that setlist pronto! Little did we know that we’d encounter super ninjas wielding tiny carving tools and executing artistic machinations upon helpless orange squash. Yeah, I’ve been listening to too many hours of Hunter S. Thompson on Audible.
This year marked the first in nine that we didn’t make our way down to the Detroit Fall Beer festival in Eastern Market. I had to work overnight for an upgrade. When I got home after 12hrs, the gang invited us to join them at Dark Horse to celebrate our friend Steve Wieczorek’s (aka Wiseguy) birthday which falls just a few days before Halloween. The gang includes my lovely wife Brenda, Jeff, Angie, Deb, Brian, Steve, Tina, Ron, Sarah, and Steve’s better half; Tracie. When the gang calls, you answer. With that, we were on the road to Marshall with an apple bundt cake in the trunk.
A Bit of History
I felt the need when thinking about our experience to understand why we carve pumpkins for Halloween in the first place. Turns out the Irish and Scottish brought the carving tradition with them when they immigrated to the States. The Celtic celebration marking the end of the harvest was known as Samhain (meaning “summer’s end” and pronounced sow-in). During Samhain, people would go from house to house gathering food for the feast (trick or treat?) and would carve turnips into faces which they would light with a candle. These Jack-o-lanterns would keep the roaming spirits at bay while you bobbed for apples and ate chestnuts.
The native orange squash we affectionately know as the pumpkin replaced the turnip here in the U.S. and we’ve been carving them ever since. At Dark Horse, we found they were having a pumpkin carving contest out in the beer garden. A collection of pumpkins was available for carving at various tables set up in the covered shed out back.
Kids of all ages were busy turning their pumpkins into the finest jack-o-lanterns of all time. From the whimsical to the surreal, the jack-o-lantern creations were marvelous and radiated the spirit of each artist.
Kristi Morse was kind enough to have us judge the pumpkin carving contest. It seemed kind at the time, but judging of these wondrous creations was tough. Who knew there were so many ways to unleash your inner Michelangelo or Rodin. We persevered in making the tough choices and winners were picked in each of the age groups.
Meet 0-12 year old winner Ty
And 13-20 year old winner Brooke
And 21 and Up winner Melissa
Our unexpected journey to Dark Horse was rich with wonderful new memories with our special gang of friends. Pumpkins, music, and beer with our extended family are special indeed.
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