Pumpkin festival may see record-breaker

The organizer of the eighth-annual Rainy River Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival is predicting great things during the weigh-in this Saturday at Hannam Park.
“With the flooding, [pumpkin growing] got off to a slow start,” noted Eltjo Wiersema. “Some got washed out in the flooding and they had to restart them, but the growing season, as a whole, was pretty fair this year.
“There’s going to be surprises this year,” he predicted. “Our goal is to have the heaviest pumpkin in the world at the Rainy River Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival.
“We can do it here!”
The heaviest pumpkin ever seen at the festival tipped the scale at 742 pounds. The heaviest in the world weighed in at 1,061 pounds.
But even if your pumpkin isn’t in contention this year, lots of other events are planned Saturday to keep everyone busy.
Registration for the pumpkin judging begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m. The entry fee is $10. There also will be a harvest display for vegetables.
At noon, the big potluck begins. “We encourage everyone to bring something,” said Wiersema.
Judging will take place after the potluck, with prizes being awarded beginning at 2:30 p.m.
“The heaviest pumpkin receives the ‘Golden Hoe.’ The grower’s name is inscribed in the hoe and [also] wins $1,000,” noted Wiersema. “Second prize is $500 and third is $100.”
Junior growers (children in elementary school) also can compete for the heaviest pumpkin. Prizes are $50 for first place, $25 for second, and $10 for third.
The hidden weight winner will pocket $100.
“There’s also the rookie-of-the-year prize for the heaviest pumpkin from a first-time grower,” Wiersema said. “They get the silver watering can with their name inscribed on it.”
Other prizes include the ugliest pumpkin, the most attractive gourd, the best decorated, and the oddest overall vegetable. Contestants also can vie for the prize for the person who attends the festival from the furthest difference.
“Anyone who brings pumpkin pie or pumpkin dessert, that will be judged and given a prize for the tastiest,” Wiersema said. “It will be then consumed at the potluck.”
Meanwhile, the pumpkin seed-spitting contest will have three age categories—adults, teens, and children. Wiersema predicted there will be 50 entrants altogether.
Organizers will be using the tent from the walleye tournament this past weekend in case the weather doesn’t co-operate.
“Thanks to all the sponsors and volunteers. Without their support, this wouldn’t be able to happen,” Wiersema remarked. “The sponsors are great, the volunteers are great.
“It takes a lot of people to run one of these. It’s very good to see so many people interested and willing to make donations.”
The Rainy River Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival is a non-profit organization which relies on the financial support of local businesses and groups to run.