Tim Pate is known around the world for his pumpkin carvings. He’s pretty well known for his music, too. And his hemp and marijuana activism, kung fu practice, ministry counseling and other endeavors are even talked about in varied circles. Along with the human nuances that make us who we are, they create the Tim Pate package, and creativity abounds.
Where you or I might see a pumpkin as a pumpkin, Tim Pate sees the Green Man or Jerry Garcia smiling back, waiting to be revealed. “I've always been able to just see it,” Pate told HIGH TIMES, during our super-high-art pumpkin photo shoot. “All my years in school were the same way, too, from the beginning: I could just see it.”
Artistic hands run in the family. Pate is a seventh generation carver and sculptor, with his father and grandfather as mentors. “My dad was not only my best friend, he was my best teacher,” Pate said.
At 14, Pate carved the walking stick he uses to this day. It was his first piece and he was guided through the entire process by Grandpa. “My grandfather taught me how to carve and how to pick up an instrument, so I did. And I’ve been carving and playing the guitar ever since.”
At 58 years young, that means Pate’s been at the sculpting and music business for 44 years. He’s opened Seattle Hempfest every year since 1995 and has performed at Portland’s Hempstock all but one year. “I even got to go play HIGH TIMES’ Cannabis Cup over in Amsterdam the same year as Kottenmouth Kings and Jefferson Starship. It was a blast, I had so much fun!”
“So for me, I’m happy to be teaching people the truth about hemp, I love being an artist, and this time of year I love teaching. In a way, pumpkins break the ice better than anything else can,” Tim said, making a great point. “I get along in the square world, even though I’m a long-haired dude, because of pumpkins.”
Pate’s all over the newspapers and glossy magazines, talk shows and news shows. But if you do an internet search on him, it’s the hemp and cannabis activism that come up first. He was on a local Portland show, "Cannabis Common Sense," for seven years. People recognize him from it at pumpkin patches all the time, and he gets through to them.
Much of Tim Pate’s activism stems from his longtime friendship with the hemperor himself, Jack Herer.
“I first met Jack more than 20 years ago at the Oregon Country Fair. I remember one night sitting around the campfire at the entertainment tent, and there was Jack across from me--and he was stonered than stoned on acid, among other things,” Pate laughed. “There was no alcohol, but we were ALL way lit up. It was a glowy evening, right? So, Jack was sitting there and I didn’t think he was awake because he didn’t move for four hours, but the next day he comes up to me and gives me the biggest old hug and says, ‘You are incredible! I love your music, man, you’re the best!’” (Tim does a very good Jack impression.) “I was thinking, who is this guy? But that’s when I learned, oh you’re Jack! Oh cool!”
Their friendship endured for the rest of Jack's physical life, Pate was even playing guitar to Jack in the hospital during his final weeks. “Jack inspired me; I’ve written songs inspired by him and for him even.”
A very Hempy Halloween!