OSWEGO, NY – The pumpkins were GREAT. The weather, not so great.
And yet, dozens of hardy souls braved the cold temperatures and heavy rain for the annual Great Pumpkin Festival’s weigh off.
The greatest great pumpkin was the last to hit the scales this year.
Alan Nesbitt’s entry totaled 1,268 pounds to slip past John Miller’s 1,218.5 pumpkin.
Nesbitt had a 1,229.5-pound winner in 2009, as well.
Matt VerSchneider of Freeville earned the top spot in the 2010 Great Pumpkin Festival with a 1,283 pounder. This year, the best he could do was 766.5 pounds.
“I’ll be back next year,” he quipped to his fellow growers.
Nesbitt said he used a Rodonis seed, from a 2007 seed, to grow the winner.
“I grew it in a greenhouse this year for the first time. So it wasn’t really a great summer; but I was able to avoid a lot of the negatives, some of the more severe pitfalls since I was in a greenhouse. I got lucky,” he told Oswego County Today.
The negatives were the very wet spring and then in July there was a very hot period, he said.
“But other than that, especially because of the greenhouse, I was able to keep everything pretty much under control,” he added.
This pumpkin was his “official personal best,” he said, adding, “I had one back a few years ago that was 1,436 but it split.”
It was the only one he had this year. He will probably just take it back home, “carve it and get the seeds for future pumpkins – hopefully bigger!”
Cracking the 1,000-pound plateau this year were:
Nesbitt – 1,268.0
Miller – 1,218.5
Don Black – 1,176.5
Karl Haist – 1,124.0 (squash)
Bill Bobier 1,168.0
“It takes a lot of patience, water and some good luck to grow a big pumpkin,” Steve Westcott said. “A bit of luck doesn’t hurt, either.”
The local grower’s top entry was 809.5 pounds. He also assisted with carrying the pumpkins to and from the scales.
Pumpkins are like 90 percent plus water,” added Eric Gerry. “Water intake is essential for their large size.”
Given the weather conditions, crowds in East Park for the festival were rather robust.
Roman Bodziony of Manhattan was having fun examining all the pumpkins on display.
“He loves it. He’s never seen a pumpkin before,” explained his grandmother Pamela Waite of Fredonia. “We would have liked the weather to be better. But, you don’t get to see pumpkins this big all the time. We want to get (Roman’s) picture on one of the great big ones!”
Aside from the pumpkin and other weigh-ins, this year’s festival had dozens of craft and food vendors set up in East Park, as well as a wide variety of goods, music and activities.