Dodge jellyfish, dig for treasure, and sniff dragon’s breath: Pumpkin Nights returns to SLCOct 18, 2019 08:19PM ● By Amy Green
By Amy Green | [email protected]
There are so many things to do with a pumpkin! Grow it yourself. Pick it from a local pumpkin patch. Carve it. Paint it. Display it. Puree it. Bake it in a pie. A popular pumpkin-themed 21st century task is creating a virtual squash and spawning it in Minecraft. But for those wanting to see pumpkins in a new way, with floating tentacles or singing mariachi, here’s an idea for a fun fall evening out.
The Utah State Fairpark (155 N. 1000 West) has a returning event called Pumpkin Nights. The event was founded in 2016 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, with a mission to showcase local artists and celebrate a magical time of year, without the creepy stuff. Now, Pumpkin Nights sets up in five different cities across the U.S. Tickets are available through Nov. 2 at pumpkinnights.com/salt-lake-city. It’s open 5:30-10:30 p.m. nightly. Parking is an additional fee.
Pumpkin Nights is known for being a playful, artistic stroll geared toward younger children, yet something all ages can enjoy. It offers an alternative to the haunted house experience and is wheelchair accessible. Wearing costumes is encouraged and there’s plenty of spots to take adorable photos. But as with every venue, don’t bring any weapon facsimiles.
Nick Gallegos came for a date night. He heard about it through Facebook. “It’s really cool. I like all the different themes this year,” he said. His favorite was the underwater area. “It had a giant octopus, coral, all kinds of fish carved into the pumpkins, seahorses — a really diverse scene. We heard there was going to be 3,000 pumpkins here, so we decided to come check out all the designs. It’s a good date night, family night and event to come to,” Gallegos added.
Luke Perkins is the on-site pumpkin artist this year, working under a spotlight where visitors can watch him carve. “I’ve been doing pumpkin carving for about four years now. I like doing it and it's just funny to me mostly to see a face in a pumpkin and see it like it was always there. I generally try to look at a pumpkin and come up with something from the shape of that pumpkin,” Perkins described.
Beyond the pumpkin carving observation area are more standout activities. There’s a pirate’s cove with a sand pit where kids can dig for tokens. The treasure coins can then be dropped down a mystical wishing well. There’s also unlimited bubbles to pop and poke at on a pumpkin trail “under the sea,” that appears bioluminescent.
The touring path goes by a tranquil pond where a fire-breathing dragon dips down for a drink. One can walk up to the creature and stand in its vapored breath to get a rare photo with a flying reptile. Every giant beast is made completely of pumpkins.
Fire dancers perform shows throughout the night. Anyone can gather round to see the impressive juggling and spinning of flaming wands. Onlookers might feel their own bones heat up and twitch to the kinetic music. Dress warm with hats and gloves to enjoy the outdoor temps.
A lineup of vendors are there for those wanting to catch dinner, hot cocoa and tasty treats. Bounce houses, hay bales to scramble on and a small carnival-style train ride is there for kids to get the wiggles out. The interactive experiences are included with a ticket, but plan to spend extra if ordering meals or purchasing souvenirs.