World-renowned artist puts Halloween face on Carefree pumpkins

Halloween spirit invades Carefree for its second year in the form of whimsical pumpkin carvings from master sculptor Ray Villafane.

"Zipperface," by artist Ray Villane.

“Zipperface,” by artist Ray Villafane.

The Enchanted Pumpkin Garden will be open to the public and woven throughout the four-acre Carefree Desert Gardens. The free, one-of-a-kind fall festival celebrates artistry and enchantment of the Halloween season for all ages and runs 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Oct. 17-31 at 101 Easy St. in Carefree.

New in 2016 will be the unveiling of Ray’s life size scarecrows, which are hand-crafted mostly of organic materials. Visitors are invited back to stroll and experience the many new mischievous pumpkin characters, artfully imagined and frolicking in their magical garden home.

In addition to the playful pumpkins, Ray and his team will carve 10 3D pumpkin faces preserved and displayed in tanks that resemble Saguaro cacti, sculpted and immersed in a pickling solution for preservation and lit by LED lighting. Mr. Villafane will carve multiple 400-pound pumpkins. Visitors are welcome to ask questions while kids can carve with him up-close and personal.

Other special weekend highlights include family carving nights with Ray Villafane and the YMCA on Oct. 26-27. New this year, Jelly Belly will invite visitors to take the “Bean Boozled Challenge” and get their picture taken with the Jelly Belly pumpkins. Easy Street Galleria will offer kids crafts along with face painting by a local artist.
On Halloween, costumes are encouraged and kids are welcome to trick or treat at various stations throughout the gardens.

Based in Arizona, Ray Villafane is an internationally acclaimed American sculptor who has traveled throughout the globe fashioning figures and scenes out of pumpkins, sand and snow.

Mr. Villafane has been called, “The Michelangelo of pumpkin carving,” by Martha Stewart, carving for the president at the White House, and has appeared on numerous national TV programs as well as holding two World Guinness Book of Records.

He’s also known for his Food Network’s Pumpkin Challenges, which he won in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

For more information visit or call 480-488-3686. For more information on Ray Villafane and Villafane studios visit

The Scottsdale Independent is published monthly and mailed to 75,000 homes and businesses in Scottsdale.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.