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Library asked community to create miniaturized version of popular annual festival

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Leah Rivendell of Tualatin looks at the Shrunken Regatta Pumpkin Decorating Contest display at the Tualatin Public Library last week. With the recent announcement that the West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta would be canceled for he second year in a row, the Tualatin Public Library's Douglas Boedenauer suggested that the show must go on.

Well — at least a miniaturized version of the show.

The result is the "Shrunken Regatta" pumpkin decorating contest, in which residents (mostly children) created a display involving mini pumpkins set on top of a makeshift construction paper lake. The display is on top of one of the Tualatin Library's bookshelves.

"We provided kits that included one mini pumpkin and a set of paints and instructions that said, 'Feel free to include anything you have at home,' so obviously people included straws and pom-poms and sparkle stuff and googly eyes," said Samantha Wikstrom, children's librarian. "People were really excited about this program. … We bought another round of 50 bags and another 50 pumpkins, and those went out in another few days."

Wikstrom said it's provided for a "really fun couple of weeks" in Tualatin.PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - One contributor created a replica of the coronavirus using a mini pumpkin.

The display features mini pumpkins ranging from those colorfully painted to a replica of a coronavirus, complete with accompanying face mask.

Also included in the display are so-called "Easter eggs," with the public making additions like a troll placed on a bridge and a plastic dog as well.

"Once we announced we were doing this, I think staff had about as much fun as the patrons did, because we made the lake and then we're like, 'Oh, we need trees. Oh, we need grass. Oh, we need leaves. Oh, we need a building,'" said Sarah Jesudason, library public services supervisor.PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - The Shrunken Regatta display was a response to give children — and adults if they wanted to — a fun alternative following the cancellation of the West Coast?Giant Pumpkin Regatta for the second year in a row.

Wikstrom said the project provided a way to engage the whole community in the artwork. She thinks the display has turned out better than expected, too.

"This is so cool," said Tualatin resident Leah Rivendell as she visited the display last week. "I had no idea it was here. I just came to the library today with my mom to pick up some items, and I saw this and was intrigued because we haven't had the regatta for a few years." PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - A dragon stands out as one of the fanciful non-mini-pumpkin-related creations on display at the Shrunken Regatta Pumpkin Decorating Contest at the Tualatin Public Library.

Rivendell has a special connection with the larger regatta. She won a ticket to the West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta's lottery in 2018, allowing her to climb aboard one of the giant gourds and paddle around the Lake at the Commons dressed as a black cat, Thackery Binx, from the film "Hocus Pocus." She also was an alternate for Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue's paddling team.

"I love seeing everyone dress up and getting excited, and it's neat to see the different pumpkins every year — all different shapes and sizes. It's pretty cool," Rivendell said of the full-sized regatta, which organizers hope to bring back in 2022 after two years off due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Wikstrom says the library plans to keep having "engaging public displays."

She explained, "It's one way in an era where it's harder to do some of the programming that we normally do to connect with the community."

That includes creation of a tribute in observance of the Day of the Dead, or Día de Muertos, which will be put together later this week.

"We're inviting people to bring in photographs of loved ones who have passed and will also have some paper pieces for them to write names or memories or things like that to add. It will be in the same space," said Jesudason.

The display will remain up until Nov. 5.PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Library books lie on a construction paper park bench, part of the Shrunken Regatta Pumpkin Decorating Contest on display at the Tualatin Public Library through Thursday.

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