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Big winners at Giant Pumpkin Festival

Oct 4th, 2014 | Category: Growing

MOUNT VERNON – State Champion giant pumpkin grower, Joel Holland of Sumner, broke his own record Saturday, Sept. 27 with a pumpkin weighing in at 1,450.5 pounds at the Skagit Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival held at Christianson’s Nursery in Mount Vernon. In addition to maintaining the State Championship for the largest Atlantic Giant pumpkin, Holland also was a world record holder in 1992.

Joel Holland (above) accepting his award for the largest pumpkin tipping the scales at 1450.5 pounds, with Lee Roof (left), at the Fourth Annual Skagit Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival at Christianson’s Nursery in Mount Vernon. COURTESY PHOTO

Joel Holland (above) accepting his award for the largest pumpkin tipping the scales at 1450.5 pounds, with Lee Roof (left), at the Fourth Annual Skagit Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival at Christianson’s Nursery in Mount Vernon. PHOTO COURTESY OF DEBRA LACY

What’s Holland’s secret? He’s not telling, but he did say that he starts out with around 75 plants and ultimately loses some to cracking, splitting and other problems. Some growers rely on a large amount of square footage to grow a giant pumpkin, but Holland doesn’t think it’s necessary, sticking to around 750 square feet for each plant. What creates the biggest pumpkins is a mix of genetics from a pool of Atlantic Giants, special fertilizer formulas that each grower creates (and thinks is the winning solution), good weather and diligence.

The weigh-off had 23 entries, with the growers of the top 10 pumpkins winning monetary awards. Their official weights were ranked as follows:

Kemper T. (above, left) is proud of his 4-year-old brother, Leven T. (right) who grew his giant sunflower (22-inch diameter) at his pre-school. PHOTO COURTESY OF Debra Lacy

Kemper T. (above, left) is proud of his 4-year-old brother, Leven T. (right) who grew his giant sunflower (22-inch diameter) at his pre-school. PHOTO COURTESY OF DEBRA LACY

• 1st place: 1,450 pounds, grown by Joel Holland of Sumner, $1,000

• 2nd place: 1,049 pounds, grown by Randy and Ron Barker of Sumner (last year’s winners), $500

• 3rd place: 886 pounds, grown by Lee Roof of Coupeville, $300

• 4th place: 871.5 pounds, grown by Brian Halbert of Auburn, $150

• 5th place, 819.5 pounds, grown by Matt Radach of Camano Island, $75

• 6th place: 746 pounds, grown by Dick Kilburn of Anacortes, $50

• 7th place: 601 pounds, grown by Robert Jerue of Lake Stevens,  $50

• 8th place: 579.5 pounds, grown by Michael Robison of Deary, $25

• 9th place: 527 pounds, grown by Denice Moffat of Deary, Idaho, $25

• 10th place: 470.5 pounds, grown by Maurizio Camparmo of Langley, BC, $25

The Howard Dill award for the “Prettiest Pumpkin” went to Randy and Ron Barker of Sumner. In addition to giant pumpkins, giant squash, sunflowers, cabbage, field pumpkins and tomatoes were displayed. The giant squash award went to Calli  Halbert of Enumclaw for her entry weighing in at 703.5 pounds. Bob Risi of Enumclaw took home ribbons and a cash award for the largest marrow (92.5 pounds), rutabaga (35 pounds), long gourd (35.5 pounds) and cabbage (19.5 pounds).

The weigh-off was coordinated with Pacific Northwest Giant Pumpkin Growers, and generous community sponsorship also included Coastal Farm & Ranch, Skagit Valley Food Co-op, Northern Lights Gardening and a grant from Skagit County. This is the first year that this event is sanctioned by the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth. For more information on the Pacific Northwest Giant Pumpkin Growers, go to http://www.pnwgpg.com/.

Coastal Farm and Ranch in Mount Vernon has the winning pumpkin on display at their entrance for the next several weeks. The 2nd place winner, also the winner of the Howard Dill award for the “Prettiest Pumpkin,” is on display at Christianson’s.

–Debra Lacy

 

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