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September 24, 2018

Oswego Crowns Its Great Pumpkin Champ


Karl Haist, right, is congratulated by Kevin Mildenberger on winning Oswego's Great Pumpkin weigh-off. Mildenberger, of Fairbanks Service, has provided the weighing for the past several years

Karl Haist, right, is congratulated by Kevin Mildenberger on winning Oswego’s Great Pumpkin weigh-off. Mildenberger, of Fairbanks Service, has provided the weighing for the past several years

OSWEGO – Karl Haist of Clarence Center, NY, returned to the champion’s podium in a big way Saturday at the Great Pumpkin fest.

In the waning moments of the official weigh-in, James Hazeltine’s 1,457.0-pound pumpkin sat atop the leader board.

James Hazeltine celebrates his huge entry.

James Hazeltine celebrates his huge entry.

Haist’s mammoth squash was gently lowered onto the scale. When the numbers settled, he had a record-setting 1,511.5-pound winner.

Then the scales were readied for the final pumpkin of the competition – another behemoth from Haist. The 1,968.0-pound giant was the undisputed winner.

Haist is no stranger to growing huge pumpkins. The last couple of years his entries have weighed in at (2012) 1,349.5 pounds, (2013) 1,264.0 pounds, (2015) 1533.5 pounds, and (2014) 1,725.5 pounds.

The state record set at the Great Pumpkin Fest in Oswego in 2014 by Haist. But it was short-lived.

He broke it the next day.

Brian Copeland had one of the more than a dozen pumpkins that weighed in at more than 1,000 pounds.

Brian Copeland had one of the more than a dozen pumpkins that weighed in at more than 1,000 pounds.

His 1,725.5-pounder placed first in Oswego on Saturday. On Sunday he set a new state record at the World Pumpkin Weigh-Off in Clarence with his 1,969-pound entry.

“Just a pound off from my record-setter,” Haist exclaimed Saturday. “Thought this would be big; but not this big!”

He said he was relieved just to get his entry to Oswego.

“We got here safe and sound. That was a relief,” he said. “I think I pollinated it May 3. It seemed like it took forever. Things were really dry all over this year. We were bone dry. But I think we had more sun than we ever had.”

His entry had a nice pumpkin coloring.

“I was thinking that being orange, that thing was going to go light. I was pleasantly surprised,” he told Oswego County Today. “This one’s done (competing). We’ll take it home if we don’t sell it.”

Karl Haist set a new state record Saturday with his 1,511.5-pound squash.

Karl Haist set a new state record Saturday with his 1,511.5-pound squash.

“It was terribly dry this year,” Hazeltine said. “We had to keep pouring water on it all summer long. But, it was worth it. The competition here is always tough – but it’s fun!”

This entry was a personal best for Hazeltine.

“It was just as dry as it was for everyone else. For someone to come up with pumpkins this big you really got to hand it to them. It’s a lot of time and hard work put into these,” he said “This is my third year here. I’m just lucky I guess. Definitely took a lot of water.”

“I hope somebody buys it or I’ll have to take it back home,” Christine Erdman (of Governor) said of her 1,144.0-pound pumpkin. “This was the biggest pumpkin I’ve grown so far. I hope to come back and do better next year. This is my fourth year competition; my third time down here in Oswego.”

It takes a combination of things to make a great pumpkin, she added.

“It’s a hard job,” she said. “It takes a little bit of luck and a lot of water and fertilizer. It was a real hard job this summer. It was awful dry. We had a bad drought. We didn’t get as much rain as other areas, and they didn’t get that much.”

Jeanne Marley was in first place for a while.

“I don’t think my chances are that good. Have you seen what’s behind us?” she said indicated the giants yet to be weighed. “The big ones are still to come. Mine’s big but it’s not BIG big. I might not win, but I’m totally happy with my entry.”

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