Pumpkin sculptor does Biringer Farms
August 28, 2008 · Updated 10:42 AM
uld carve marble alright, let him try to carve a pumpkin in under 24 seconds.
Thats the record by Everett sculptor Russ Leno, who made an appearance, and a mess, at Biringer Farms last weekend. Leno is a talented artist who travels the world carving just about anything he can get his paws on. He was at the farm during the Strawberry Festival last summer carving sand sculptures, and helped usher in the fall festival with an assortment of pumpkin sculptures created on site.
Leno might have found his niche, but it looks like hes still trying to find his medium; he and his team work in sand, snow, ice, pumpkins and Spam, hopefully not all at once. He has been on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno (no relation), Martha Stewarts show, and about a dozen others.
He had visitors transfixed last Saturday as he whittled away (and nibbled away) at the orange orbs grown on the Spencer Island farm. Leno has been carving professionally for 12 years; he jokes that his father threw him out of the house and told him not to come back until he could carve a pumpkin.
It took me years to get back in the house, Leno laughed. Hes proud of me now.
So was Jaleh Johnson of Sammamish, a 10-year-old girl from the Issaquah area who has been visiting Biringer Farm her entire life. She was awestruck as she watched Leno deftly flick the pieces from a pumpkin as he turned it into a carving of a lions head.
I think hes really phenomenal, Johnson said. Hes done more than carving.
She was there with her mother Kathie, who said they drove all the way to Spencer Island just for the doings at Biringer Farm. In addition to pumpkins for sale, there are two corn mazes, a hay bale maze, kettle corn and other food for sale, in addition to squash, corn and other locally grown produce. They were asking Leno about his style and the fact that he doesnt gut his pumpkins or light them from inside. He said he will depending on the size and type of carving; one had a halogen bulb illuminating his work at another event.
I like the fact they get to do everything, Johnson said. I like the fact that its a one-stop Halloween fest.
There is also a free Zip line where folks can ride a rope-swing down an overhead path, just like a superhero in a movie. Ken Snodgrass of Lake Stevens was watching his 20-something daughters Jennifer Ervig of Lake Stevens and Joanna Merino of Marysville as they flew down the ride.
My daughter comes every year so she had to drag grampa out with the grandson, Snodgrass said, referring to 20-month-old Aiden. This is his second time here this year.
Leno lives in Everett but his work has taken him around the world, from Switzerland to China. Hes been on many TV shows and does work for corporate clients like AOL and Microsoft, and he will soon appear at the Fort Worth Zoo. He was on the Food Network last week in a pumpkin carving competition taped last May, where he made the 24-second mark; those pumpkins were already gutted and a top was cut for the competition. He lost to a competitor who carved round eyes instead of the traditional triangles Leno made. He wont get skanked again, he vowed.
My objective is to do it in seven seconds, Leno said.
Lenos work can be seen on his website, www.sleepyhallowpumkins.com, and directions to BiringerFarm can be found with other information at www.biringer.com.