William Wilson’s first pumpkin carving competition was several years ago at the Columbus Zoo.
His friend, Jonathon Michael, encouraged him to enter that competition and the Fairfield resident took second place. It was his first competition, and he “got some notice,” Wilson said.
After that, he got regular gigs, being booked as a professional.
“I would carve every year at Operation Pumpkin, and one of the primary carvers runs a shop in Cleveland and books gigs,” he said. “I started making a ton of pumpkins and putting them on social media.”
Over the past two years, he received calls from casting companies. He made a video but didn’t have any luck until last year when the Food Network called saying “they wanted me.” He was invited as a contestant on season two of “Outrageous Pumpkins,” which filmed episodes this past fall in Virginia over a two-week period.
“You’ve never seen pumpkin carving quite like this,” according to the Food Network of the show hosted by Alyson Hannigan. Wilson will be one of seven of the country’s best pumpkin carvers creating “haunting designs you’ll have to see to believe,” the network said.
The grand prize is $25,000.
Wilson’s success in carving started out as a hobby, with him carving in his garage, and continues to not be his full-time focus. He is the owner and general manager of CRS First Response, a full-service cleaning and restoration company based in Liberty Twp.
“This is just something I got good at and I was able to compete on a TV show,” Wilson said. “Every year it seems like I was getting better and better, so I knew the opportunity would come soon.”
He called the past several years a “whirlwind,” but it all is because of his friend Michaels, who advised him to “just be around” the top carvers at Operation Pumpkin, many of them who are among the best in the field.
“It started out with me just sweeping up as they were carving the big pumpkins, and helping them move the big pumpkins,” he said. “And I just got my opportunity.”
Wilson said he’s reduced a lot of distractions from his life, including giving up riding his motorcycle “to put things into perspective, trying to get that laser focus on carving.”
“I can do 100 things decent or I can do two or three things great, and that’s what I’m going to focus on, the three things I do great,” he said of his family, work and carving.
There are four episodes of “Outrageous Pumpkins.” Episode 1 is Jack-O’-Lantern Faceoff where the contestants turn three pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns depicting a cursed nursery rhyme. Then contestants need to create a “terrifying” display using at least five pumpkins “depicting what lies beneath the ocean.”
A single contestant is eliminated after each of the first three episodes, then four carvers will compete for the title in Episode 4.
HOW TO WATCH
Season 2 of “Outrageous Pumpkins” premieres Oct. 3 at 10 p.m. on the Food Network
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