There’s a new state giant pumpkin champion. Well, almost new. State Champion giant pumpkin grower, Joel Holland of Sumner, broke his current State record today 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. As the first place winner in today’s weigh-off, Holland received a check for $1,000.
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. You could call these growers are obsessed, but what a magnificent obsession, indeed.
The weigh-off had 23 big-bellied entries in what turned out to be a lovely day after the fog burned off. The top ten pumpkins won monetary awards. Their official weights were ranked as follows:
1,450 pounds Grown by Joel Holland of Sumner, $1,000 prize, broke his current state champion record.
1,049 pounds Grown by Randy & Ron Barker of Sumner (last year’s winners), $500 prize
886 pounds Grown by Lee Roof of Coupeville, $300 prize
871.5 pounds Grown by Brian Halbert of Auburn, $150 prize
819.5 pounds Grown by Matt Radach of Camano Island, $75 prize
746 pounds Grown by Dick Kilburn of Anacortes, $50 prize
601 pounds Grown by Robert Jerue of Lake Stevens, $50 prize
579.5 pounds Grown by Michael Robison of Deary, $25 prize
527 pounds Grown by Denice Moffat of Deary, Idaho, $25 prize
470.5 pounds Grown by Maurizio Camparmo of Langley, BC, $25 prize
349 pounds Grown by Bob Risi of Enumclaw (no cash prize for 11th)
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 lbs), rutabaga (35 lbs), long gourd (35.5 lbs) and cabbage (19.5 lbs).
Children got into the act for Junior pumpkins and sunflowers. Four year old Levin T. of Mount Vernon got a prize for his 22 inch diameter sunflower he grew at his pre-school.
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/.