September 27, 2013

Giant Pumpkin Contest blossoms into big competition for growers

From staff reports

Some of the largest pumpkins in New England will be on display Saturday in Springvale for the annual Giant Pumpkin Contest.

The contest, hosted by the Maine Pumpkin Growers Organization for the past decade, is the culmination for growers of months spent growing pumpkins that can top 1,000 pounds.

"It's like an obsession," said Al Berard, the organization's president and a veteran pumpkin grower. "The hobby has blossomed into a major competition not only all over the United states and Canada, but all over the world."

Last year's contest attracted 27 entries from across New England and Berard expects a similar turnout this year. Charlie Lopresti, chief meteorologist for WGME-TV Channel 13 and vice president of the Maine Pumpkin Growers Organization, holds the 2012 record for largest pumpkin. His weighed in at 1,332 pounds.

Contestants will begin unloading their giant pumpkins at 10 a.m. at The Depot Store at 146 Pleasant St. in Springvale. Weigh-ins begin at noon. The event is free to the public.

The grower of the heaviest pumpkin will receive an award of $1 per pound. Judges chosen from the audience will choose the winners with the prettiest and "most aesthetically challenged" pumpkins, Berard said.

The award for the prettiest pumpkin is named for Howard Dill, a Canadian grower who in the 1970s improved the genetic traits of seeds through experimental cross pollination. Dill's Atlantic giant seed is the only seed on the market that has the ability to grow pumpkins in excess of 400 pounds, Berard said.

Awards also will be given to the new grower with the largest pumpkin. The Maine Pumpkin Growers Organization this year encouraged new growers to try their luck by selling seed kits. Discounted pumpkin seeds also will be available at the contest weigh-in.


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