October 2007 Issue
Jerry Ayers Guinness World Record Pumpkin Carver
HOMETOWN: Baltimore, Ohio PERSONAL: He and wife Sally have five grown children.
DAY JOB: Ayers owned and operated an insurance agency with his wife until they sold it in 1996. He is now a self-employed garden-center wholesaler.
JUST CALL HIM SLASH: In 1999 Ayers set two Guinness records — one for carving a pumpkin in 1 minute 37 seconds and one for carving 87 pumpkins in 7 hours 11 minutes — in Elmore, Ohio. In 2000 he beat his own record by carving a single jack o’ lantern in 1 minute 18 seconds on CBS-TV’s “The Early Show.”
SEEDS OF GREATNESS: Ayers developed a passion for pumpkins by carving Halloween jack o’ lanterns for his kids. He eventually graduated to demonstrating his skills at local schools. Media outlets began requesting interviews, and in 1994 he ended up at WCMH-TV in Columbus, where he carved a pumpkin in 1 minute 56 seconds on the noon news. An anchorwoman proclaimed him “the world’s fastest pumpkin-carver” on the station’s evening broadcast, and appearance requests began pouring in. TRAVEL DILEMMA: “I’ve been invited to ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ the last two years. But I just don’t want to jump on an airplane with a handful of knives.”
WHAT HE LOOKS FOR IN A PUMPKIN: “A real deep-orange color and real thick stem. I won’t carve a pumpkin without a stem —- it looks like a ball with holes in it.”
ADVICE TO ASPIRING MASTER CARVERS: “Learn a method of carving and don’t follow anybody else’s pattern.” — Lynne Thompson