This weekend there were two festivals that took place simultaneously in Greenbelt, Maryland. Fortunately both events were held close together so I was able to take part in both.

I love the Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival, which usually takes place on the weekend before Halloween. Friday night is this carving party where the general public is invited to pick up a free pumpkin to carve. Once the person finished the pumpkin carving, it is taken to the front of this stage where it is lit with a candle while a local band performs. So here is what the Carving Party was like.

Pumpkin Carving Party, October 23, 2015
Pumpkin Carving Party, October 23, 2015

Pumpkin Carving Party, October 23, 2015

Pumpkin Carving Party, October 23, 2015

Pumpkin Carving Party, October 23, 2015

Pumpkin Carving Party, October 23, 2015

Pumpkin Carving Party, October 23, 2015

Pumpkin Carving Party, October 23, 2015

Pumpkin Carving Party, October 23, 2015

Pumpkin Carving Party, October 23, 2015

Pumpkin Carving Party, October 23, 2015

Pumpkin Carving Party, October 23, 2015

This year a Johnny Cash tribute band named Cold Hard Cash performed. I shot a video but something went wrong. When I downloaded the footage to my MacBook and I viewed it, I saw that there was no audio. I play the first few minutes of another video that I already had on my MacBook and found that the sound still played so I knew that the audio problem wasn’t with my MacBook. I shot a short selfie video while I was saying a few random sentences on my Droid Ultra smartphone to test the audio and I found that the audio didn’t record at all. At first I began to fret because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to shoot videos with my smartphone if the audio didn’t record. So I tried shutting off my phone then turning it back on again. I shot another short selfie while saying a few sentences and I found that it recorded the audio that time. My smartphone had never done anything like that before so I hope that it was just a one-time glitch and not signal the beginning of the end of my smartphone’s lifespan. (Personally I’m less than thrilled with the idea of planned obsolescence but that’s a topic for another blog post.)

As a result I don’t have any usable video footage of Cold Hard Cash performing at the festival this year so I’m going to provide video footage of a previous performance by the same band that I shot a few years ago. It’ll give you an idea how much the lead singer sounds like Johnny Cash even though he bears very little physical resemblance to the late Man in Black.

Saturday was the first day of the Utopia Film Festival and the second day of the Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival. I usually attend at least one film during the Utopia Film Festival most years if I find something that’s potentially of interest. (There was one year, back in 2012, when I actually sprang for the $25 all-access pass because I was interested in at least six movies and I ended up seeing nine. I haven’t done it since because, with each film having an admission fee of $5, I usually need to find at least five movies that I want to see before I would spring for that all-access pass.) I ultimately ended up going to only two of the movies at that festival.

I went to a Saturday afternoon showing of a film block that consisted of one documentary and two short films. The first film was a short called Red Thunder and it was a hilarious combination of teenage angst and superheroes. The second movie was a documentary called Glow and it was supposed to be a portrait of three different professional performers who wear wigs and makeup before they go out on stage and entertain people. I thought that one was a bit slow-moving and I began to get bored at all those close up shots of people applying several layers of makeup. It only lasted 20 minutes but it felt twice as long to me.

The third movie was the main feature called Broken Hearts & Butterflies about a filmmaker who reunited with her older foster sister who had lived with her family when she was very young. The film delves into the foster sister’s dysfunctional childhood before her mother abruptly decided that she was tired of motherhood and asked her 13-year-old daughter to leave (and her father wouldn’t take her in either) so she went to live with the foster family. The film also showed what happened when, five years after she moved in with them, her foster parents decided to divorce and the foster sister found herself on her own once again. Actually it’s a far more positive film than I expected as the foster sister managed to begin a successful career as a photographer and she’s a functioning member of society. I found myself liking the film. There was a brief Q & A session with the filmmaker and her mother that was pretty interesting as well. It was too bad that the foster sister wasn’t present since she was the focal point of the movie but I guess she had scheduling conflicts.

That evening was the second day and final of the Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival when there was a pumpkin walk through a wooded area consisting of lit jack o’lanterns that were carved at that Carving Party the night before. I took my flashlight and my hiking stick along on that walk. I also brought my smartphone with me where I took these photos of just a few of the lit pumpkins that were on that walk.

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 24, 2015

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 24, 2015

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 24, 2015

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 24, 2015

A woodland fairy greeted walkers on the wooded trail.

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 24, 2015
Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 24, 2015

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 24, 2015
Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 24, 2015

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 24, 2015

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 24, 2015

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 24, 2015
Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 24, 2015

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 24, 2015

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 24, 2015

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 24, 2015The legendary Goat Man made an appearance.

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 24, 2015

A mysterious beaver-like creature also appeared.

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 24, 2015
Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 24, 2015

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 24, 2015
Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 24, 2015

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 24, 2015
Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 24, 2015

Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk, October 24, 2015

It was a pretty lovely walk. The only downside was that it started to rain when I was about three-quarters of the way through with the walk. Luckily I was wearing my hooded windbreaker so I was able to just put my hood up when I felt the first few raindrops. At least it didn’t rain too hard and the rain was a shower that lasted a few minutes so that shower had passed by the time I got to the end of that walk.

The next day I woke up very stiff because of both the walk from the night before and the rain that took place overnight and into the following morning. My body tends to get very stiff in the mornings when it rains. I can handle long walks and I sometimes wake up slightly stiffer if I take a longer walk than usual. But the combination of the two really did a number on my body. I took a hot shower to alleviate it but I was still feeling too stiff go to church that morning so I missed out on that second annual Trunk or Treat event that was going on that morning. (I saw the photos that people posted on Facebook.)

That day was the second and final day of the Utopia Film Festival. I saw one other movie block. This one began with a six-minute short called XBoundary, which was about how a mining boom in British Columbia and Alaska had devastated both the salmon fishing industry and the people whose livelihoods depended on having healthy salmon swimming around.

The main feature was The Z-Nail Gang, which was this New Zealand comedy-drama based on a true story about how the residents of one small New Zealand coastal town managed to stop a large corporation from mining there back in the 1980’s. I’ll admit that it took me a while to get used to the New Zealand accents but I found the movie to be pretty funny at times, especially its depiction of the CEO of that large corporation who was from Texas and he even wore a cowboy hat throughout the whole film. If you ever get a chance to see The Z-Nail Gang, I recommend that you do so.

So that was how I spent my weekend before Halloween. 🙂

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