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September 25, 2018

Great Pumpkins Abound In Port City


The third time was a charm for Alan Nesbitt. After posting a third place finish in 2007 and a second place last year, he captured the top spot at Oswego's Great Pumpkin Fest this year.

The third time was a charm for Alan Nesbitt. After posting a third place finish in 2007 and a second place last year, he captured the top spot at Oswego's Great Pumpkin Fest this year.

OSWEGO, NY – Three, two, one – winner!

After a third place finish in 2007 and runner up last year, Alan Nesbitt of Canisius (south of Rochester) won top honors Saturday at the 2009 Oswego Great Pumpkin Fest.

Casey Jansen of Geneva is visiting his grandparents in Scriba. On Saturday, he visited the Oswego Fire Department's open house and then ran into his new friend "Patches" at the Pumpkin Fest a short time later.

Casey Jansen of Geneva is visiting his grandparents in Scriba. On Saturday, he visited the Oswego Fire Department's open house and then ran into his new friend "Patches" at the Pumpkin Fest a short time later.

After a second place finish in 2007 (with a 1,149.5 pounder), Joe Pukos took home the top prize in 2008 with a 1,219.5 entry. Nesbitt was right on his heels with a 1,141-pound pumpkin.

This year, Nesbitt pulled away from the competition and won the crown with an entry that tipped the scales at 1,229.5 pounds.

Matt VerSchneider of Freeville (south of Cortland) took the top spot with a weight of 1,089 with one pumpkin left to go . . . Nesbitt’s.

He looked over at the hulk, glanced at the official weight of his entry and remarked, “There’s your winner. That’s 1,100, maybe 1,200 easily.”

The other three pumpkins to crack the 1,000-pound plateau at this year’s festival were Randy and Deb Sundstrom with 1,028 followed by Brian Staring with 1,048 and Tim Finn at 1,079.

Pumpkins were the theme of the weekend. This young man uses a pumpkin to pick up a spare at the pumpkin bowling booth.

Pumpkins were the theme of the weekend. This young man uses a pumpkin to pick up a spare at the pumpkin bowling booth.

Randy Sundstrom said he used the seeds from the pumpkin of another competitor who beat him a while back at the festival in Cooperstown (“by just 8.5 pounds!”).

“It takes a lot of patience, water and fertilizer to grow a big pumpkin,” he said. We get seeds from each other and see what works best for us.”

Finn said he only grew the one pumpkin this year.

“It took up about a third of my back yard,” he said.

“This is going to be the second place pumpkin. That one is going to be first. I’ll bet on it,” VerSchneider said pointing at Nesbitt’s pumpkin.

Nesbitt said he grew his winner from the seed of a 1,385-pound pumpkin.

“This pumpkin is just about 90 days old from the blossom,” he pointed out. “It took a lot of water, definitely a lot of fertilizer and a lot of crossing of the fingers; there is a lot of luck involved.”

The growing season was very cold and difficult and this was the only great pumpkin that he had this year.

As it turned out, he smiled, it was the only one he needed.

There were plenty of rides for children to enjoy at the 2008 Oswego Great Pumpkin Fest.

There were plenty of rides for children to enjoy at the 2008 Oswego Great Pumpkin Fest.

Christine DuRoss proved women can grow giant pumpkins just as well as men.

Her 914-pound entry placed 10th. It was a bit smaller than her 938.5 entry in 2008, which placed fourth.

“The weather was pretty tough,” she said. “You have to have just the right conditions, and a bit of luck helps, too.”

Nesbitt said he’s been doing this for 25 seasons (since he was 14) and a little bit of luck always helps out.

“We lucked out this year,” he said.

The 2008 pumpkin was his personal best. He lost one last season that weighed 1,426.

The weather plays a big part in pumpkin growing, agreed Hannibal resident Steve Westcott. He grows his organically, he added.

Sixteen-month-old Eli Prior wears a pumpkin beret to show his support of Oswego's Great Pumpkin Fest.

Sixteen-month-old Eli Prior wears a pumpkin beret to show his support of Oswego's Great Pumpkin Fest.

In 2007, Bill Bobier’s pumpkin weighed in at 1,405.5 pounds – the biggest the Oswego Great Pumpkin Fest has ever seen.

It blew past the 912.5-pounder that captured first place for Eric Gerry in 2006. And, it edged out Dave Schafer’s 1,081.5-pound entry from 2005.

Prior to 2007, the top weight was 1,100 (set seven years ago), also by Bobier.

The only thing bigger than the pumpkins was the crowd at the 2009 Oswego Great Pumpkin Fest. The warm weather brought out hundreds of people, young and old.

Aside from the pumpkin and other weigh-ins, this year’s pumpkin festival had dozens of craft and food vendors set up in East Park, including a wine and cheese tasting event, as well as a wide variety of goods, music and activities.

East Park was crowded all weekend with people enjoying good food and activities, and of course, great pumpkins.

East Park was crowded all weekend with people enjoying good food and activities, and of course, great pumpkins.

“This is a great event,” said Frank Clavelli Jr. “What a great way to fall into fall! There seems to be a much bigger crowd this year. There is so much to see and do. All the stuff they do is just great for the kids.”

The results for 2009 are in. The top ten pumpkins are:

1.    1229.5        Alan Nessbitt
2.    1089.0        Matt VerSchneider
3.    1079.5        Tim Finn, Webster, NY
4.    1048.5        Brian Staring, Waterville, NY
5.    1028.0        Deb & Randy Sundstrom, Walton, NY
6.     984.0        Tim & Christy Wolf, Little Valley, NY
7.    982.0        Steve Westcott, Oswego, NY
8.    962.0        Jeff Alberts, Memphis, NY
9.    946.5         Walt Merriam, Fayetteville, NY
10.    914.0        Christine DuRoss, Honeoye Falls, NY

Youngsters used other gourds to create festive faces on pumpkins.

Youngsters used other gourds to create festive faces on pumpkins.

Squash (3):

1.    637.0        Steve Westcott
2.    276.5        Rick Inzero, Webster, NY
3.    231.0        Cody Szatkowski, Macedon, NY

Watermelon (5):

1.    76.0        Linda Burgey, Rochester, NY
2.    75.5        Deb Sundstrom, Walton, NY
3.    46.0        Tim & Christy Wolf, Little Valley, NY
4.    27.5        Richard Burgey, Rochester, NY

Tomato (1):

1.    2.75        Steve Westcott

Longest Gourd (1):

1.     80.85”        David McMillan, Macedon, NY

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