CAREFREE – Halloween invades the town of Carefree in the form of whimsical pumpkin carvings from master sculptor Ray Villafane and the Villafane Studios team for a fourth year. The Enchanted Pumpkin Garden, a free admission, one-of-a-kind fall festival celebrating the magic of the season takes place October 19-28, with the incredible artistry of Villafane Studios on display throughout the four-acre Carefree Desert Gardens in downtown Carefree.
Voted “Best in the Valley” fall event in 2015 and 2016 by Phoenix Magazine, visitors are invited to experience the many new mischievous pumpkin characters, artfully imagined and frolicking in their enchanted garden home. In addition to the playful pumpkins and holiday vignettes, Villafane and his team will carve ten 3-D pumpkin faces, which are preserved and displayed in tanks that resemble Saguaro cacti. Another popular attraction is the giant pumpkin on display for visitor photos, with Villafane handling the carving chores the second weekend of the event. Villafane’s team of carvers will create new offerings daily throughout the garden.
Highlights include two family-instructional carving nights with Villafane on October 25-26, sponsored by Desert Foothills YMCA. Costume contests for kids, family/group and adults will be held on Saturday, Oct. 27, and a pet costume contest will be held on Sunday, Oct. 28, sponsored by Carefree Pet Resort. Other popular activities include: Basha’s “Adopt a Pumpkin” patch; a pumpkin pie eating competition, with pies provided by Venues Café; a Harvest Market, featuring vendor goods and autumnal treats; a beer garden featuring craft beers provided by Four Peaks Brewery and wine; culinary food trucks; and a new weekend Haunted Happenings area, where for a $5 fee visitors will enjoy a petting zoo, pony rides, a haunted house, corn maze and other family-friendly attractions. Other special events will round out the week.