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September 19, 2013

Annual event features giant pumpkins


Getting the pumpkins to grow huge is just half the battle. According to Szarpa, growers face many challenges just getting the pumpkins to Cooperstown. They can get punctured while moved or even burst, she said.

One exploded last year, Szarpa recalled. She said the pumpkin barely got off the truck when a hole was detected.

“Stuff just started gushing out,” she said. “And the smell was not pretty.”

It is hard to determine just how many pumpkins and other items from the garden will be entered into the weigh-off before the day of the event. “It’s a gamble,” according to Szarpa.

“We don’t know until last minute. There could be 20, 30 or as few as 15,” she said. “But I would like to anticipate on having about 30 pumpkins. We just really don’t know.”

Having smaller pumpkins wouldn’t be all bad because that could benefit the Regatta, according to Szarpa. She said the ideal size for the floating pumpkin boats that will be raced across Otsego Lake is 300 to 400 pounds. Squash have also been used in the past.

“We would like to have at least 15 pumpkins we can carve out and race Sunday morning,” she said.

Each year, some of the pumpkins are brought to Lakefront Park and carved into boats for local business owners, growers and community members to participate in a series of race heats. Lakefront Park will also feature a vendor marketplace with food, crafts, music and children’s games throughout the day.

Racing is set to begin at 11 a.m.and will be broadcast live at

“The event has become very popular. In the past people had said they had a hard time getting a good spot to see the races. We want everyone to be able to enjoy the event,” Szarpa said.

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