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Pumpkin weigh-off set for Saturday

September 29, 2011
By J.T. Whitehouse
The giants are coming. This Saturday starting at 9 a.m., giant pumpkins from around the northeastern states will be transported to Parks Garden Center in Canfield for the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth’s global weigh off to determine the world’s largest pumpkin.

At Parks, the weigh-off will involve the 325 members of the Ohio Valley Giant Pumpkin Growers organization. The Canfield site will be one of 90 locations around the world where growers will be vying for top honors.

According to information sent from Ohio Valley Giant Pumpkin Growers Treasurer Alan Gibson, “The current Ohio record is 1,725 pounds held by Christy Harp of Massillon.”

Tim Parks, owner of Parks Garden center, said he heard there will be a member from New York that has a potential candidate for the world title.

“He will be weighing in on Saturday in Canfield,” said Parks. “We have a sneaky suspicion that two or three may break the record.”

As the giants are weighed, the data is sent to a global recording area where all the sites will be collected. At Parks, the numbered will be tallied for the world record as well as the state record.

In past years, Parks has competed with some really big pumpkins, but this year has not been a good one.

“We had too much heat this summer,” he said. “That’s not good for pumpkins. I pretty much got wiped out.”

Although he won’t have a contender this year, Parks is in the top 10 producers globally.

He also mentioned that the Ohio Valley Giant Pumpkin Growers does have five of the top 10 producers in the world. Parks’s top entry from prior years was a 1,571 pounder that took third place.

The world record to beat is presently held by Chris Stevens of Wisconsin, who registered a 1,810 pounder. In a letter, Gibson said giant pumpkins have come a long way. He mentioned that the giants have been grown for the past 150 years and the world record has more than tripled over that time.

As for prize money for growing them big, this year will see in excess of $20,000 for the heaviest categories of giant pumpkins, green squash, watermelon, tomato, cantaloupe, Halloween-type pumpkin and the longest gourd. The heaviest pumpkin will be awarded $5,000 for first place. There is an extra $10,000 for the first pumpkin grower to bust the 2,000 pound mark.

The weigh-in will begin at 10 a.m. and end at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1. The event is open to the public. It is recommended people bring their own lawn chairs to watch the weigh-in. The exhibits will remain on display until 4 p.m.

Gibson also noted that the Ohio Valley Giant Pumpkin Growers will be featured in the October issue of Smithsonian Magazine.


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