Before the carving...

Last Weekend: Life is Good Pumpkin Festival

A four-story tower of jack-o-lanterns loomed over Saturday night's Life is God Pumpkin Festival. The New England-born

clothing company

joined forces with Central Dallas Ministries to bring 6,000 hand-carved faces to life, lighting the city with a ghostly red blaze.

Smiling, frowning, laughing and crying, the lanterns sat in piles and in long lines that surrounding every bit of the park. And at a steady rate, more and more children covered in seeds and pumpkin entrails would waddle up with freshly hewn lanterns ready to add to the growing multitude.

In the heart of Dallas, with the Central Expressway roaring a few yards away, stepping onto the hay-covered ground at the Dallas Pumpkin Fest was like stumbling upon a celebration from another century. Scarecrows hung from posts along a fence, and children scrambled to build more, stuffing hay into old pants and shirts. There were no flat screen monitors or video games. There were no go-karts or even flashing lights. Instead there were simple beanbag tosses and gourd-bowling games. The kids bolted around with excitement nonetheless, stopping every now and again to pet the carousing goats and stuff their faces with turkey legs, sausages on a stick and other carnival-style eats.

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Aside from hurling plump, juicy gourds across a field with a catapult, bowling with pumpkins, raking in tones of free goodies and watching the 40-foot inferno, the Pumpkin Fest offered a lineup of various artists for entertainment. Though the Smashing Pumpkins would have been more appropriate, the three piece Texas Gypsies brought a big-band swingster style to the stage, Shanghai 5 shook things up with a rockabilly blues set and Porter Davis gave the gala a Louisiana-style blues groove during the costume parade (where little Spidermans and fairy princesses strutted their stuff).

The Chief Operating “Optimist” of Life is Good, who went simply by Roy, was all smiles. “We put on festivals all over the place to benefit different service organizations and ministries,” he said, as he handed a free Life is Good Sticker to an eager 8-year-old. “Anyone can benefit from Life is Good because—hey—life is good.” -- Dustin Aguilar

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