Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Champion of the gourds goes for guts and glory

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There's an old journalistic saying popular among old journalists that states: "No guts, no glory."

There's a lot of truth to that old saying, especially when it comes to the high-stakes world of pumpkin carving.

I mention this because today, for the fourth straight year, I will be up to my elbows in pumpkin guts as I compete in Carving for a Cause, the annual Celebrity Pumpkin Carving Contest at the Kildonan Place Shopping Centre.

As I duke it out against an army of local media personalities, there will be a little extra weight on my shoulders because I AM THE DEFENDING CHAMPION! NEENER! NEENER! NEENER!

Virtually every media personality you can name will be at the mall from 11 a.m. to noon carving for their favourite charity, which means if a major news event happens, you won't hear about it due to the fact we will be way too busy working on our (bad word) jack-o'-lanterns.

But that is a small price to pay, when you consider that if the mall is attacked by zombies, the city will be safe, because the brain-eating undead will be confronted by a sweat-stained group of media persons wielding butcher knives.

I do not wish to appear self-centred, but I am taking the defence of my crown pretty seriously.

"You are the reigning champion so I'd be watching my back if I were you," is how Corey Quintaine, Kildonan Place's marketing director, put it. "You have some stiff competition this year, so better get your carving skills honed quickly."

Corey explained some of my stiffest competition will come from our elected halls of power in the form of Shelly Glover, the Conservative MP for Saint Boniface, who is submitting a pumpkin, despite the fact she will, technically speaking, be in Ottawa while the rest of us are busy whittling our gourds in the mall.

I am determined to beat Glover, largely because she humiliated me a few years back when we competed in the VIP frog-jumping event in St. Pierre-Jolys at the annual Frog Follies Festival, and she took great delight when I shrieked like a little girl every time I was forced to touch an actual living frog.

But that's in the past. The reason I took the crown last year was partly because you, the kind-hearted newspaper readers, were allowed to vote for your favourite pumpkin online.

It's the same deal this year. The contest will once again be decided by hipsters using social media. We all get $100 for our charity just for competing, but the mall is going to post photos of our pumpkins on its Facebook page (www.facebook.com/kildonanplace) and whichever one gets the most votes (Just click the "vote" button under your favourite pumpkin) by midnight on Halloween earns another $500 for charity.

Speaking of which, I will once again be carving in support of the Winnipeg Humane Society, and that means I will pin my hopes on creating a "cute" pumpkin carved in the likeness of one of my three dogs.

Corey seemed to think creating a pumpkin that tugs at the heartstrings as opposed to sending the gastrointestinal system into reverse-thruster mode is a smart strategy. "Cute or creepy works," he told me. "In the photo we posted of you and your pumpkin last year, you had sad puppy dog eyes, so that probably helped."

My personal motto is: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. So I am definitely going to need your support online, sweet readers, if me and my puppy pumpkin are going to retain the title and win big bucks for the humane society.

It's definitely going to take a lot of guts to pull this off.

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 29, 2012 A2

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