Reporting and Writing Across Platforms

The Great Pumpkin Decorating Contest

Writer’s Note: I attended the 4th Annual Pumpkin Decorating Contest at the Georgia Center for an event coverage assignment in my reporting and writing across platforms class. This was my first time covering an event and getting hands on experience with finding a story and interviewing.

ATHENS, GA- The annual pumpkin decorating contest at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education and Hotel continued this year, with many of the pumpkins being inspired by the events and themes of this year, like COVID-19 and the 2020 presidential election.

Office of Service Learning pumpkin
Photo by Erin Johnson

The University of Georgia did not have a pumpkin decorating contest until four years ago, when the sales department at the Georgia Center decided it was time to start one. 

“But it’s autumn. And you know, you have to do something with pumpkins. And I thought it was rather interesting that I didn’t see a pumpkin decorating contest,” said Elizabeth Hovell, who is head of the sales department and in charge of the contest. 

The contest allows each department or unit at UGA to submit a decorated pumpkin in the contest to be judged by secret chosen judges and voted by the public for the People’s Choice Award. This year, “The Zooming Dead” from UGA Service-Learning won the Best of Show award, which was decided by the judges. The People’s Choice winner was the “Service is Sweet” pumpkin by the UGA Public Service and Outreach department.

Ever since they started the contest, they have gotten many creative and interesting pumpkins, sometimes with the themes being related to the department that submitted it. Every year they usually get around 30 pumpkins submitted into the contest. 

“The one last year didn’t even look like a pumpkin because they built out like a rim on it. So it looks like a cauldron,” said Sue Smith, the sales department public relations manager, about the art school’s submission from the year before. 

This year though, there were only 11 pumpkins that were submitted, possibly because of COVID-19, but that did not stop the decorations from being very creative, especially since they have a lot of inspiration to work with from this year. 

There was a pumpkin that was decorated as a Clorox wipe container, a spooky Zoom meeting, a nurse, and a ballot box, among others. The pumpkins were on display at the Bulldog Bistro in the Georgia Center from Oct. 21 to Oct. 30, with the winners being announced on the final day.

Social Media Posts


While at the event: “UGA departments are dropping off their pumpkins for the Georgia Center’s annual pumpkin decorating contest! The public will be casting votes between Oct. 21-30.”

After the event: “The Georgia Center for Continuing Education and Hotel hosted their annual pumpkin decorating contest. While we talked with the event coordinators, departments of UGA dropped off their pumpkins, with many decorations going along with the themes of 2020.” (put link to story) 


After the event: Post a few photos of the decorated pumpkins: “The Zooming Dead”, “Your Voice, Your Vote”, and “Housing-Ox” 

Caption: “The Georgia Center hosted their annual pumpkin decorating contest this year. Departments of the University of Georgia submitted their pumpkins to be judged and voted on in the contest by secret judges and the public. Click the link in bio to see which pumpkins won! ” (link to full story in bio) 

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