Rainy River hosting giant pumpkin festival

Why settle for great pumpkins when you can go for giant ones?
That’s the attitude Rainy River will be taking Saturday as the town hosts the third-annual Rainy River Valley Giant Pumpkin Contest.
Grower of the heaviest pumpkin will walk home with $1,000 and the “Golden Hoe,” with second and third prizes of $200 and $100 respectively.
Last year’s winner, Sheldon Mose of Emo, took top honours with his 295.5-pound pumpkin. But organizer Dr. Ewan Affleck said he was expecting some this year’s entries to tip the 500-pound mark.
And the contest itself also has grown into something the community on both sides of the border has really gotten into, he said.
“Pumpkin growing is a burgeoning sport with weigh-off sites around the world,” Dr. Affleck noted. “We have about 200 people signed up. One is from Iowa and there’s a couple from Vermilion Bay.”
Registration takes place at 10 a.m. by the waterfront at Hannam Park, with the Rainy River Arena reserved as a back-up location in case of rain.
A potluck lunch will be served at 1 p.m.
Although the contest hasn’t been held yet, already tales of pumpkin tragedy have happened as a 650-pounder cracked open just two weeks before judging.
“It was a disaster,” Dr. Affleck said. “I saw the pumpkin. It measured 12 feet around. It just got a fungus.
“It was a shame,” he added. “At the rate it was going, it was coming in at 700 pounds. That’s a world-class pumpkin.”
In addition to heaviest pumpkin, categories include ugliest pumpkin, the smallest pumpkin, most attractive pumpkin, and best decorated pumpkin.
A separate category also has been set aside for junior growers. Dr. Affleck said 100 giant pumpkin seeds were handed out to elementary students in Rainy River and Stratton in hopes of cultivating a grower.
“The hope is to teach kids to enjoy gardening,” he added.
And a contest will be held for the oddest overall vegetable. Dr. Affleck urged people to bring in their strangest zucchinis and most interesting looking potatoes.
And for those who prefer cooking to gardening, a pumpkin pie and dessert contest also will be held, with entries to be eaten by the audience afterwards.
Raffles, as well as guess the weight of a giant pumpkin and number of seeds contests, will add to what Dr. Affleck hopes to be a festival-like atmosphere.
“There used to be a harvest festival here years ago. We’re trying to capture that spirit,” he said. “The purpose of the thing is to have a good time [and] to bring people together.”