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September 19, 2013

Annual event features giant pumpkins

There are very few places one can go to see pumpkins that are actually large enough to be made into Cinderella’s carriage.

Cooperstown is an exception, however. Each year, giant pumpkins and other fruit are brought to the village to be weighed, judged, cooked, eaten, painted, carved and even raced.

PumpkinFest will return to Cooperstown this weekend. The two-day event, hosted by the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce, will kick off Saturday as pumpkins and other fruit growers converge at Doubleday Field parking lot for a weigh-off. Food and merchandise vendors will also be on hand starting at 9 a.m. The weigh-off is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. and will feature growers from all over the northeast region.

The grower with the heaviest pumpkin will win $2,000 and a plaque. Other prizes will be handed out to participants.

Last year’s largest pumpkin tipped the scales at 1,509.5 pounds. The winner, grown by Pete Sweet of Great Barrington, Mass., did not break any record but it marked a personal best for the pumpkin grower. The world record belongs to Ron Wallace from Greene, R.I. In 2012, he grew a pumpkin that weighed a whopping 2,009 pounds, making it not only the largest pumpkin in history, but also the largest fruit ever grown in the world. The massive pumpkin took top honors at the Topsfield Fair in Topsfield, Mass.

There have not been any records broken in Cooperstown since David Hilsltolky of Wyoming, Pa., who broke his state’s record for the largest pumpkin with a 1,557-pound orange giant in 2009.

Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce Director Pat Szarpa said the growers have indicated that this has been challenging year for them because of the heavy rains early on in the season.

“It slowed the beginning progress of the growth, so there may not be as many massive ones as in the past,” she said. “There just was not enough time for them to get fattened up.”

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