It was a big day in the Santa Cruz Valley on Saturday when hundreds of people gathered at the Stillwater Harvest Fest to see different pumpkins – different shapes, colors, and sizes – compete with each other, the most important of which is weight. …
A crowd gathered around the Pumpkin Weighing Square in downtown Stillwater, and laughter, cheers and joy echoed from each of the 40-plus giant pumpkins.
Barbara Sawyer from Illinois and her husband came to the festival six years ago and wanted to experience it again this year by visiting family.
“We came again because we had a lot of fun,” said Barbara. “I like everything related to agriculture and cultivation.”
One producer, Bev Anderson, unveiled her pumpkin, nicknamed Tiger Kitten, inspired by North America and Minnesota’s 2020 record pumpkin The King of the Tigers, which weighed 2,350 pounds and took its name from the hit Netflix series.
Anderson competed with her husband Don Anderson. The Bev Pumpkin weighed 1,540.5 pounds. Then it was time for Don to weigh his.
“I need to get 1539 if I want to eat tonight,” Don said, joking at the crowd.
“Cross your fingers, say a prayer, and throw the pumpkin over your shoulder,” event announcer Chris Brown said as Don’s pumpkin was placed on the scale.
It became apparent that Don didn’t actually eat tonight. His pumpkin weighed 1,638.5, which was his best personal record.
“I got the right to brag about our patch for another year,” Don said.
Bev bought frozen pizza, which she said she was going to share with her husband.
Don’s personal best will help improve future pumpkins, said contest enthusiast Jacob Maristani.
Maristani and his wife Caroline of Crystal have been coming to the Harvest Festival for five years now. They remembered how, when they first started to come, their little daughters sat on pumpkins.
“We just came to see the big pumpkins,” Caroline said.
Later, another grower, Dan Thompson, prepared to weigh his pumpkin. When the scale read £ 1,691, his friends cheered up and took pictures.
Then came Chris Qually, the former Minnesota record holder, whose pumpkin weighed 1,918 pounds during its first year of cultivation. Qually also used the seeds of the Tiger King, which were grown by Travis Ginger, a gardening instructor from Anoka.
(Ginger was less fortunate this year: the pumpkin he was hoping to enter shattered because the wall was too thin. He ended up introducing a smaller pumpkin that weighed only about 400 pounds.)
Kuali led a competition sponsored by the Santa Cruz Island Producers’ Association and his pumpkin weighed 1,846.5 pounds. Then came Jake Johnson from Benson, Minnesota, with a previous personal best of 1887 pounds.
Johnson, 6’10, made his Elsa pumpkin, named after a princess from Disney’s Frozen, look small. Nonetheless, Elsa finished first with a weight of 1966.5 pounds and won Johnson a prize of $ 5,000.
“I’m in cloud 9. It’s exciting,” Johnson said.
Growing up for over eight years, Johnson did not expect to win and was actually aiming for the top three.
Announcer Brown told the crowd, “Pumpkins are 90 percent water and 10 percent magic.”
Despite the record summer drought, the water still got into Johnson’s pumpkins.
“The growing season went very well,” he said. “Aside from the drought, it was the perfect year to grow a large pumpkin. It was warm. And I can always add water to the garden instead of taking water. Everything fell into place. Good luck.
The record for the world’s heaviest pumpkin was set last month by Stefano Cutrupi, an Italian farmer whose pumpkin weighed 2,703 pounds. Producers in Stillwater are hoping to beat him next year.
“When you talk about giant pumpkins, it just makes the world smile. Everyone loves to see them, ”said Brown.