When you think of a Churchill that requires a specialized environment to maintain its integrity and that will develop mold under the wrong temperature and humidity conditions, you usually picture something the color of leather and about seven inches long by 47 ring gauge, like a Romeo y Julieta.
In this case were talking about an orange gourd of quite a bit larger dimension: a Halloween pumpkin. Pictured here is an entry in the Louisville, Kentucky, Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular. A friend and local publicist Philip Ruskin snapped the shot and submitted it.
We called Travis Reckner, who runs the pumpkin show and was walking the grounds as we spoke. He told us the Louisville setting is a change of venue for the show, which has been held in Providence, Rhode Island. Travis added that it also posed some problems as the event has encountered something of a warm spell with temperatures as high as 85° Fahrenheit, 20 degrees above normal.
And that's been causing the more than 5,000 jack-o'-lanterns to spoil a lot more quickly than normal. They also develop, you guessed it, mold, just like a cigar would. Given the right conditions, Reckner says, the pumpkins will cure, just like tobacco, and turn leathery. What's different is that a cigar aficionado might brush the mold off his smoke. These guys go in with a Shop Vac.
Travis is undaunted, however, by the climatic developments, saying, "We're building something special here."
Unsurprisingly, we were most interested in the depiction of Winston Churchill in the medium of pumpkin and how that came about.
This year's theme is "Journey Around the World," Reckner informed us, and 150 or so of the featured jack-o'-lanterns fit that theme. As guests walk the third of a mile of woods where the event is staged, they figuratively travel through the Caribbean to South America to Egypt and Africa and on to Europe. The Churchill pumpkin is in that last category, representing England, with Big Ben and the country's most prominent statesman and cigar smoker.
The gourd artist behind the Churchill-with-cigar depiction is a young man named Sam Cooney, who is a student at the University of Louisville. Sadly, Reckner was unable to put us in touch with the talented scholar, nor to tell us much about him beyond: "I know he's an incredible pumpkin carver."
Well, that was obvious. But our unanswered question is: Since Sir Winston was also known for enjoying a libation or two, and while the event is being held in Louisville, shouldn't the prime minister have been holding a glass of Bourbon?
I guess we'll never know.
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