Pumpkinmania’s weigh-off contest is only a month away and the pumpkins are growing amidst their typical trials and tribulations. Updating the condition of “Hope,” the pumpkin we reported on in a previous article; Stuart Shim, the owner, says that it has already separated from the vine and with 60 days before the competition he has no hope of a top achiever. Russ Price, however, holds on to his enthusiasm as he and his team, Calabaza Vaqueros, measure their specimen, “Angus,” at 124 inches in circumference, and find the estimated weight on the chart to be 460 pounds-and still growing.
What is the appeal, why do they go through this?
The growers say they enjoy the camaraderie as they visit each others’ pumpkin patches and exchange ideas and tips. Champion grower and current world record holder for the largest pumpkin ever grown by a woman, Michelle Lofthouse said “It's funny about the giant pumpkin growing community…there really aren't that many secrets. It seems everyone is very generous with their growing techniques.” Beyond the friendships there is also something attracting them to these giant pumpkins, these “ wonderfully wacky giant orbs” as Lofthouse describes them.
Among all the stories from all the growers perhaps the most endearing is Wendy Taylor’s. As she tells it, “My husband Stacey and I were referred to one of Stuart's Giant Pumpkin Seminars at Laguna Hills Nursery in the spring by a friend Lora, who knew of our special interest in Pumpkins. This interest stems back to our annual Halloween Parties. At one of the first parties we held, my husband proposed to me by carving a letter in individual small pumpkins saying "Wendy will you marry me?" and having these setup and displayed in our front yard during our party unbeknownst to me. All the guests were escorted out to the front yard where I was later escorted. It was a magnificent experience. Ever since then we have had a very special affiliation with the Pumpkin.”
Adding excitement and a visual perspective to the growing activity this year is the new Pumpkinmania International Digital Photography Competition. Not just for photos of pumpkins, this competition is open to all types of nature, vegetables, scenes of autumn, interactions between people and nature, animal behavior, gardens and landscapes and weather. There is a Junior category for photographers aged 7 to 17, and an Open category for those over 17. Prizes will be $25 Gift Certificates.
The 2008 Pumpkinmania! Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off & Contest
Sunday, October 26, 2008, 8:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Entry and grower registration from 8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
Final weigh-off begins at 12:00 noon.
Location: Centennial Heritage Museum, 3101 West Harvard Street, Santa Ana, CA 92704, http://www.centennialmuseum.org/ for map and directions.
Price: Free to enter, free to attend!
Prizes: Heaviest Pumpkin, First Place, $1,000, Second Place, $500, Third Place, $300, courtesy of Gardner & Bloome division of Kellogg Garden Products. Prizes will be also awarded for Best Color, Funniest Shape, Youngest Grower, Most Experienced Grower, Most Classic Pumpkin, and many more.
Activities: Children face-painting, Victorian tea, blacksmithing demonstrations, Guess the Weight of The Three Heaviest Pumpkins, and more.
Information on the Weigh-Off & Contest: Pumpkinmania.blogspot.com