Kid Reporters

A Master Carver

A sixth-grade teacher carves pumpkins in record time

October 31, 2011

Hallmark characters Hoops and Yoyo bring some wacky fun to Halloween.

It takes a lot of skill and hard work to establish a world record in speed pumpkin carving.  Steve Clarke, a sixth-grade teacher from Havertown, Pennsylvania, should know. Clarke has set multiple world records for carving pumpkins quickly. When he competes, he must cut out two eyes, two eyebrows, a nose, a mouth, and two ears as fast as possible, and then put the lid back on for the pumpkin to count. But Clarke knows something else about pumpkin carving. It’s easier to get a record than to keep it.

Reclaiming a Record

Steve Clarke gives TFK Kid Reporter David Pomeroy some carving tips.
Steve Clarke gives TFK Kid Reporter David Pomeroy some carving tips.


For over a decade, Clarke held the record for carving the fastest face into a pumpkin.

He took the title in 2000, when he carved a pumpkin face in 74.8 seconds. That time was 19 seconds better than what previous record-holder Jerry Ayers had accomplished. From there, Clarke beat his own record five times. In 2006, he set his best time during a competition at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. He was taking part in the Food Network Challenge: Guinness World Records Week. His winning time was 24.03 seconds!

Kid Reporter
J. David Pomeroy

The only problem is that someone finally bested that mark. On October 7, 2010, David Finkle from the United Kingdom set the new time at 20.1 seconds. Clarke was not able to beat that mark this year, but he has definite plans to return the record to Pennsylvania. After Halloween, he will go to local pumpkin farms and get surplus pumpkins to practice designs and new techniques so he’s prepared to reclaim the record next season. 

Other Pumpkin Prizes

While he waits to win the single pumpkin carving title, Clarke can enjoy his other carving feats. He currently holds a different world record. It took him only three hours, thirty-three minutes and 49 seconds to become the fastest person to carve faces into an entire ton of pumpkins.

Clarke has enjoyed some perks that came because of his pumpkin-carving prowess. He has been featured on a trading card, and also on the Guinness World Records 2011 calendar. He was once the answer to a question on the game show Jeopardy. And way back in 1999, he carved more than 30 pumpkins at the Halloween party of then-Vice President Al Gore.

What was the best pumpkin he’s ever carved? “That would have to be The Scream, a copy of the painting by Edvard Munch. It was a very intricate design that was a challenge to carve,” said Clarke.

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