FARMINGTON -- For Ken Klinker, the cooling temperatures and falling leaves are a sign of only one thing ... pumpkins.
For 15 years Klinker, a Farmington resident and city employee, has been developing his talent for pumpkin-carving. Friends and family define him as an artist who has found his passion in life.
"Some people use canvas, but in his case he likes pumpkins," said Dave Combe, Klinker's neighbor. "He's really quite good at it."
Klinker said he got hooked years ago when he bought a kit that claimed to create an amazing carved pumpkin. He spent hours poking tiny holes into a pumpkin and was disappointed with the outcome, until he put a light inside.
Lighting the pumpkin brought the design to life, he said. What was invisible in the daylight was an amazing work of art when lighted from within in the dark.
"I was hooked after that," he said. "I've been carving pumpkins ever since."
Some of his work includes characters from "Harry Potter," "Avatar," and "Pirates of the Caribbean." He appeals to children with carvings of Mickey Mouse and entertains the older crowd by carving monsters and ghouls. He gets most of his designs off the Internet.
This year he has been licensed by the University of Utah and Brigham Young University to sell pumpkins carved with the schools' logos.
Last year he had a display of 102 pumpkins in his yard on Halloween. About 30 or 40 of those were real-- the rest were foam. This year he hopes to top that number.
Combe said the neighbors have enjoyed watching the collection grow over the years. What started with just a few pumpkins has grown to more than 100, he said.
"It's a neighborhood gathering on Halloween," Combe said. "We are just dumbfounded at how many there are and how intricate they are. It's fun for all ages."
Klinker's wife, Kim, said he began carving on foam pumpkins when they had to fill up their trash can with pumpkins the day after Halloween.
"It was hard to see all that hard work go in the trash," she said.
Some designs take five to six hours or longer to create, and it was frustrating to see them succumb to mold and decay.
Foam pumpkins, although more difficult to carve designs into, last for several years, Klinker said.
Klinker has an assortment of tools that help him create the elaborate details. He uses a Dremel rotary tool to carve foam pumpkins. It has various small bits to create shading and depth, he said.
He carves the real pumpkins with wood-carving tools and an X-Acto knife.
Klinker will be displaying some of his pumpkins in City Hall on Halloween, and they will also be part of a children's Halloween party, sponsored by Miss Farmington, on Oct. 21.
He also donated one of his detailed carvings of Jack Sparrow to the Philadelphia Children's Hospital as part of a nationwide effort by pumpkin carvers to benefit the hospital.
"I never feel like enough people come and look," said Klinker. "I hope that lines of cars line up to see them."
Klinker lives at 1288 S. 15 East, in Farmington. Much of his work can be seen at www.facebook.com/kenspumpkinpatch1.