Made in Eastern Iowa: The pumpkins aren't real but the creativity is

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Susan Mitchell points to a time 16 years ago when the pumpkin art industry reached a new normal.

Susan and Nancy Mitchell, of Cedar Rapids, have carved pumpkins for years -- fake pumpkins in recent years they say hold up year after year -- out of their garage and home for Spooktacular Pumpkins.

This was the year the pumpkins that Susan and Nancy Mitchell work on shifted from real pumpkins to the fake ones.

"It was around 2001 so some of the ones up here we’ve had since 2001," said Susan. "They’re really durable so they’re just like Christmas decorations. You can keep them from year to year."

Inside the garage, the Mitchells showed us what may be one of the most unusual garages in all of Cedar Rapids, perhaps even Iowa.

Their hobby grew into Spooktacular Pumpkins where, this week, the busy season is here. The carving, the planning, the orders and the shipping - yes, these ship as they are not fragile or will spoil - fill their time.

"It’s fun because when they see them, they say 'oh, they’re not real' and you can keep them year after year," said Nancy Mitchell. "They’re like Christmas decorations and people get really excited and they don’t have to throw them away."

Nancy also adds this point on how the fake pumpkins can be, truly, spectacular.

"They’re pretty soft and they’re pretty light," Nancy said. "If you put them outside, you have to put something in them to weigh them down but they’re pretty easy to store."

The passion for pumpkins has taken the Mitchells far beyond Cedar Rapids and the market. Their work falls in line for so many autumn-themed events.

"We’ve gotten to go to the Pumpkin Festival in Anamosa, the Quad Cities and it works really well because we get a lot of word-of-mouth and being at the market, it’s big exposure for us," said Nancy."

For all of her years of carving pumpkins, Susan admitted that the most difficult design was very much a tangled web of work.

"The Spider-Man. It took probably an hour, a little bit more than an hour to get the pattern on it and 3 hours to carve it. That is one I probably would not want to have to do it again."

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