An artist can work with all kinds of mediums. Paint, charcoal and clay are just to name a few. Artists take simple materials and turn them into something truly amazing for onlookers to see. One of the of the more unique art talents happening locally is competitive pumpkin carving.
Drew Smith of Columbia has taken it upon himself to become a professional pumpkin carver. Where most families do simple jack-o-lanterns for the holidays, Smith creates elaborate artworks carved into massive pumpkins. This talent has positioned him to appear on a Food Network show, starting this weekend called Halloween Wars.
Smith, who originally lived in Juliet, Ill., has lived in Columbia for the majority of his life where he lives with Meghan, his fiancé, and their three children, Liam, Luke and Emma.
When he is not working hard at the local Walmart in Columbia, he is home enjoying time with his family. In his free time, he carves pumpkins into amazing pieces of art. He also carves butternut squash and works with clay.
Without much previous artistic experience, Smith began carving pumpkins in 2018. He taught himself through trial and error and internet guides on the techniques of carving. With over 1000 hours of practice, Smith would carve nearly every day during Covid, practicing on pumpkins and butternut squash.
“You have to learn how to fail better than you do at succeeding when it comes to pumpkin carving,” said Smith.
Smith found support from William Wilson of Fairfield, Ohio, who also competes on similar shows. Wilson pushed Smith to keep working hard in his carving career so he could compete.
The day has finally come for Smith to put his skills to the test by competing in Food Network’s Halloween Wars, which has been on television for 12 seasons. Smith will be competing with his team against nine other crafty groups in a knockout-style series of episodes.
Teams will be Judged based on an art piece’s story, artistry and tasting elements.
“It was nerve racking at some points,” said Smith, and said his team worked well at overcoming any challenges they faced.
The Food Network episodes featuring Smith will begin Sunday, Sept. 17, at 8 p.m. and will continue every Sunday until the season ends. He encourages everyone to keep watching each Sunday for a “big surprise” sometime during the series.
Smith encourages everyone to follow their dream: “if you are really passionate about something it does not matter who you are or where you are from, if you really want to do it, you can do it,” he said.
If that dream is to compete in pumpkin carving, Smith’s advice is to be certain you are “open to criticism,” said Smith.
Keep an eye out for more of Smith’s works as he will also appear on a show on Food Network focused on the backgrounds of each contestant. Smith will also be at Hamilton, Ohio Oct. 13-15 where he will be carving at “operation pumpkin.” It is there where he will carve a pumpkin weighing close to 2,000 pounds. He will also be carving locally in Columbia when offered opportunities.
By Brandon Roberts
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