The Slindon pumpkin festival may have lost its creator, inspiration and heartbeat – but this year's display, a tribute to the late Clifford Ralph Upton, is drawing visitors and reviews like never before.
Having worked for Mr Upton for more than a decade, Tony Smith masterminded the current design – a reworking of Mr Upton's 2002 Sunflowers and Butterflies display.
Mr Smith, who spent four days assembling a scaffold structure to hold the pumpkins, and a further five to create the fruity artwork, said the design was particularly poignant.
"This was one of his favourites – he had a picture of it blown up and displayed in the house," he said.
"Mr Upton senior was very particular about his pumpkin displays – last year's underwater theme was almost finished when he decided it should include the Loch Ness Monster.
"Even in recent years, he would climb up the ladder himself to arrange the pieces, so I hope he would have enjoyed the final product we've got here."
Since the first display at the family's Church Hill home almost 20 years ago, about 10,000 visitors annually flock from around the world and descend on the otherwise peaceful village to marvel at the spectacle – and to buy the odd pumpkin, butternut squash or
Mr Upton, who died on June 21 aged 87, is succeeded in the work
by son Robin, who is now used to the media spotlight on what is a global event.
"I'm fairly sure it's the only event of its sort in the world," he said.
"We have visitors from America, Australia and New Zealand, as well as plenty of locals, of course.
"The village tends to get fairly congested around this time of
year, but the residents don't seem to mind."
Following an early harvest, this year's display features more than 500 pieces of fruit weighing about two tons.
Mr Smith admits the event will never be quite the same without Mr Upton senior at the helm, and next year's display may feature a number of changes.
"Mr Upton was always very passionate about having a real variety in his displays," he said.
"He would insist we grew this, or grew that, but some things take up too much room and don't bring in enough money, so we'll be tweaking our plans for 2010."
The team have no intentions of stopping though, and Slindon – christened the pumpkin capital of Britain – looks like hanging on to its title for several years to come.
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