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Woody Lancaster’s Giant Pumpkin

August 16, 2011

Nestled away in a residential neighborhood in Topsfield, MA is the garden that Woody Lancaster grows his giant pumpkins in. I recently visited Woody to check in on how his pumpkins were doing. Its only August and these local pumpkin jewels are already about 700-800 lbs. Woody explained to me that these pumpkins, Dill’s Atlantic Pumpkins, are mostly water at this point. In this garden, there are three long vines that have produced one large pumpkin each.

The pumpkin vines must be planted annually. They start in a small pot indoors and then are moved to a very small greenhouse. Once the pumpkins outgrow the greenhouse and the outside weather becomes nice enough, they are moved outside to the garden where they remain in place until September. On the day before the contest, the growers will cut the pumpkin off the vine and load it to get ready to bring it to the Fair to be weighed in. The winner of the contest gets their pumpkin displayed at the Fair for over 500,000 people to see. After the contest, the seeds from all the pumpkins are used to create bigger and heavier pumpkins for the following year. Others are used to make the ultimate Halloween decorations – Giant Jack O Lanterns.

The Topsfield Fair has held the Giant Pumpkin Contest since 1984 and has seen pumpkins of all sizes. The first and smallest pumpkin to ever win was in 1984, weighing in at 433.0 lb. In 2007, Topsfield Fair had TWO world record holders. First was 1966lb. The record was held for only mere minutes until Joe Jutras of North Scituate, RI,  stole the record away for a 1689 lb. pumpkin. According to Guinness World Records, the current World Record is held by Chris Stevens in 2010, with a pumpkin weighing in at 1810 lb and 8 oz. grown in Wisconsin. Joe does however still hold the Fair Record.

The contest is currently limited to pumpkins over 300lb and they expect to see between 40-60 pumpkins to compete this year. Make sure to catch the Giant Pumpkin Contest along with giant tomatoes, squash, long gourds, and watermelons, on Opening Day, Sept. 30th, at 2pm in the Arena! Maybe this year, Topsfield Fair will hold the new world record!

2010’s Giant Pumpkin Contest Video:

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