Acclaimed pumpkin carver Alfred Paredes to highlight the event
Gourd-geous” pumpkin sculpting, with dogs as the inspiration, a splashy stage show with four-legged actors, a frisky robotic canine with lots of personality and fantastic pup-themed chalk drawings — Bridgeland’s Howl-O-Ween Fest will fuel the imagination of dog lovers 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27.
Sculptor Alfred Paredes of Villafane Studios will be the highlight of the Fido-and-family event that returns for the fourth year in Bridgeland, a project of The Howard Hughes Corporation. During the festival, Paredes will transform ordinary pumpkins into expressive 3-D works of art using only X-Acto knives and ribbon-sculpting tools. Working with pumpkins somewhat larger than the typical grocery store fare, Paredes requires about four hours from start to finish to create ghouls, goblins and other fantastic creatures. Straight from an attempt in New York City to set a world record for the largest illuminated pumpkin, the artist will make his first Texas visit, which is also the first visit for any artist with Villafane Studios.
Paredes says his carvings will most likely feature dogs and won’t be quite as frightening as usual, given the day’s canine theme and the nature of the family-friendly festival.
Event-goers can check back often to follow his progress, as well as watching the work of urban artist Anat Ronen, who will create a chalk masterpiece during Howl-O-Ween Fest. Credited with more than 200 original murals in Houston, including work for Neiman Marcus and Dr. Pepper, Ronen also is a dynamic street painter who works with the company We Talk Chalk on several high-profile shows in Austin and Israel.
Also entertaining Howl-O-Ween Fest visitors will be Shaggy D, the BioMechanical WonderDog whose lively interactions will have people questioning whether he is really a robot — and then howling at his antics. Pets Overboard, an energy-packed revue featuring a cast of dogs, cats and other animals, will be among the stage performers at the event, as will the dock-diving prowess of Splash Dogs.
Other Howl-O-Ween Fest treats include a pooch fashion show and costume contest, a farmers market with pumpkin patch, the high-flying antics of the Houston Canine Frisbee Disc Club, street performers, trick-or-treating for kids and dogs, and dozens of pet vendors. As in years past, The Foundry Church will hold its annual fall event during Howl-O-Ween Fest, with bounce houses and an array of carnival-themed games and activities.
“Howl-O-Ween Fest is certainly one of our most colorful and popular events, with unbelievably inventive dog-and-owner costumes,” said Peter Houghton, vice president of master-planned communities for the Howard Hughes Corporation. “It’s also for a good cause, with the thousands of people attending each year generously donating to various pet charities.”
Most Howl-O-Ween Fest activities will be free; however, a few will fetch a small donation, which will benefit participating animal rescue groups including Chesapeake Bay Retriever Relief and Rescue, Cocker Spaniel Rescue of East Texas, Great Dane Rescue of Southeast Texas, Husky Haven, Texas Collie and Sheltie Rescue and Weimaraner Rescue of Texas.
Quieting hunger growls will be a caravan of food trucks trekking to Bridgeland for the day. Already on tap for the event are Custom Confections, the Great American Cookie Company, Grill ‘em Girls, Texas Best Snowballs and Kona Ice.
And while fun will be unleashed throughout the day, dogs will have to remain on their tethers at all times. Plus, pets must be current on all vaccinations, wear a current rabies tag, and be on their best behavior — any aggressive pooches will be asked to leave to keep the event enjoyable for everyone.
Event updates can be found at bridgeland.com/howl-o-ween-fest.
As both sculptor and owner of two boxers, Alfred Paredes was a natural choice to represent the studio at Howl-O-Ween. Joining the Villafane Studios team this year, Paredes first received notice for his pumpkin sculpting in 2008 when The Ellen Show asked him to carve two backlit gourds for a Halloween show. He was invited back two more times to display lighted celebrity pumpkins, one of the many ways Paredes works with pumpkins.
Paredes’ love for sculpting extends beyond pumpkins, which he started experimenting on as a child after becoming bored with the traditional triangular eyes and nose and jagged mouth. He is a well known bronze sculptor and recently completed his first monument, a 9-foot-tall portrait of western icon Lucky Baldwin. Paredes also has done special effects sculpting for the movie industry, as well as other commercial projects.
For the Bridgeland visit, Paredes will have a bit of unusual carry-on baggage, as he intends to bring an unsculpted pumpkin with him from California. He hopes to have several pumpkins finished by day’s end. See examples of Paredes’ and other Villafane Studios artwork at villafanestudios.com.
The 3-D pumpkin carvings of Villafane Studios artist Alfred Paredes will be top dog at Bridgeland’s annual Howl-O-Ween Fest.