I MET master pumpkin carver Tim Pate on a sunny day at the Pumpkin Patch on Sauvie Island. He was tucked under the tent of the corn maze, carving a pumpkin into a portrait of a man who planned to use the pumpkin to propose to his girlfriend, by hiding it at a dead end in the corn maze. (She said yes!) Guns N' Roses and "American Pie" played on the loudspeaker, with dozens of squealing, field-tripping grade schoolers milling around, occasionally stopping to stare and delight. Pate's pumpkin carvings have been featured on the TV series Grimm, among many other places.
OREGON COUNTRY FAIR—"I've been an artist a long time. I've carved down at the Oregon Country Fair for, like, 14 years. I was on the staff there for a long time. I did a lot of carving, the faces in the trees, and the benches, stuff like that. I have hundreds of carvings down there. I was also the coordinator for the Portland Hempstalk Festival here in Portland. I've been involved in the hemp movement for decades. But right now, during October, it's pumpkins for me."
IN THE FAMILY—"My great uncle was a foreman in a stone quarry in Alabama. Some of my earliest memories were watching them pull huge house-size blocks of stone out, from when I was two, three years old. My grandfather was a stonemason. The most important sculptor I ever sat with was my great grandfather. When I was 14, I spent the summer with him. He was 85. I said I want to learn how to carve. He started showing me; he said, 'Pick up an instrument, too.' So I did. I picked up the guitar that year. I've been doing both ever since, since '69."
BEST-CASE SCENARIO—"I've been sold out a year in advance. Some years, like, four or five years in a row. I mean, I've got $30,000 orders to do on my hands, and cash in my hands. For an artist, you can't ask for more. I've got clients who have lined up 14 years in a row, and I like that—just in pumpkins. Can you imagine?"