THE COOPERSTOWN CRIER
I have been covering PumpkinFest for five years. It is one of the more unique events I get to cover each year. Typically, I am asking paddlers what it is like to race giant pumpkins in Otsego Lake.
Not this year. I jumped into a carved out pumpkin and tired it firsthand this year. I was in the heaviest pumpkin, so the challenge was on!
First was the sponsor race. Then growers and community members were able to compete. I waited until the last heat, wanting to make sure everyone who wanted to try it got their chance.
I even waited last to choose my pumpkin. It was just floating in the water calling out my name. Everyone had picked smaller easier-to-manage pumpkins. It had yet to place in the top three and those who paddled it complained about getting it to go.
It is hard to really say where I ended up because most people turned around before reaching the half-way point marked by milk jugs. A younger kid was clearly whipping my butt in a smaller pumpkin. I think he and I were the only ones who did not turn back, so I guess that places me second by default.
It was not about winning for me though. It was about having seen so many people try it and wanting to give it a try. I had seen people flip several times — usually being launched — but there were a couple rollovers earlier in the day. Maybe this is where it was smart to be in the heavier pumpkin.
Paddlers are right when they say it is not every day one gets to hop inside a pumpkin and race it in a lake. It is definitely a unique experience.
Did my arms hurt some afterwards? Yes. Did I get pumpkin guts all over my clothing? Yes. Did I get a little wet? Yes — but mostly because I was in the last heat and offered to paddle it back to shore and had to hop out in shallow water. Did I get slime in between my toes? Yes.
But it was all worth it.
If you have never gone to PumpkinFest, it is definitely a must see. These are not your typical garden-sized pumpkins at all. For example, this year’s winner tipped the scales at 1,509.5 pounds.
The regatta can be somewhat hard to see, but thanks to organizers, it was broadcast live this year. Next year, the hope is to have big screens so even more people can enjoy the festivities.
Hope to see you there next year!
This editorial was written by Crier reporter Michelle Miller.