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Contest seeks best carved pumpkins

Andrew Gertler of Sea Cliff demonstrates his skill

Andrew Gertler of Sea Cliff demonstrates his skill of pumpkin carving at Hicks Nurseries. This 622-pound pumpkin was grown in Commack by Scott Armstrong. In the winter, Gertler sculpts ice figures and in the summer he uses his talent on sand sculptures. (Oct. 17, 2010) Photo Credit: Peter Walden Sr.

Long Islanders who take pride in pumpkin carving are invited to compete to be crowned top carver by a local celebrity.

Hicks Nurseries in Westbury is hosting its inaugural Pumpkin Carving Contest on Oct. 15, and it will be judged by the Travel Channel’s Andy Gertler, a Sea Cliff native who stars in “Sand Masters,” a new show about world-class sand sculptors.

“We had Andy with us last year, and it drew such an interest and we thought this year we wanted to step it up,” said Karen Musgrave, of Hicks Nurseries.

Gertler offered to do some carving demonstrations at the nursery last October, drawing large crowds to the Jericho Turnpike store.

“We said, ‘Let’s add another element to it. Let’s let the customers be creative,’” Musgrave said.

The 52-year-old, who owns SandSculpt USA in Sea Cliff, said he will be judging the contest with a focus on originality, technique and “wow” factor.

“The ‘wow’ factor is the part that makes you say ‘Wow!’” Gertler said.

Gertler’s love for the effect still has him doing low-paying work for local residents, despite his newfound fame. He started carving pumpkins about three years ago and his “wow” factor entourage includes an underwater feeding frenzy scene carved in a 622-pound pumpkin.

“When you evoke an emotion it’s big because, you know, art is so subjective,” he said.

Gertler said he keeps his relationship with Hicks and other loyal customers alive because he is “loyal to people who helped me out on the way up, and you have to remember that.”

A $20 gift card to the nursery will be awarded for the best-carved pumpkin, best-decorated pumpkin, the scariest pumpkin, the funniest pumpkin and the best pumpkin carved by a child 12 years old or younger. The contest is free to enter, but each participant can have only one entry.

Pumpkins must be completed before they arrive for registration at the nursery at 10 a.m.

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