Big pumpkins star in Goffstown
GOFFSTOWN - The third-largest pumpkin in the world was the top contender at the Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off and Regatta on Saturday, beating its nearest competitor by nearly 200 pounds.
Steve Geddes' 1,843.5-pound gourd held the title of world's largest pumpkin for a mere 24 hours earlier this month at the Deerfield Fair, but was unseated by the first ever 1-ton pumpkin, which weighed in at a whopping 2,009 pounds at the Topsfield Fair in Massachusetts.
Jim Ford of Hillsborough brought this year's second-place pumpkin, which tipped the scales at 1,645.5 pounds.
A younger generation of pumpkin growers had a chance to show their stuff, as well, as Sam Rubin of Dunbarton brought a pumpkin of 869.5 pounds, taking first place in the youth division.
As one of the youngest growers, 5-year-old Maisy Menard of Hillsborough took second place with a pumpkin weighing in at 411 pounds.
'She was first place at the Hillsborough County Fair in 2010,' said he mother, Jennifer.
Her father, Jim, said Maisy worked hard all summer in the family's pumpkin patch, hauling hoses and making sure her prized pumpkin was watered and fertilized.
'And she shooed everyone out of the pumpkin patch,' Jennifer said with a laugh.
The weigh-off was a highlight of Regatta weekend, a two-day festival of food, folks and fun on the Goffstown Common presented by the Goffstown Main Street program.
Main Street businesses sponsored many of the day's events, including TD Bank, Goffstown ACE Hardware, Powden's Jewelry and Sully's Superette.
Pumpkin-themed activities for both young and old were scattered in various locations in the downtown area, including pumpkin hunts, a pumpkin catapult and a pumpkin cook-off.
The day also provided an opportunity to raise awareness about different causes, with booths and tents spreading the word about topics ranging from bone marrow donation to finding permanent homes for shelter dogs.
But the stars of the day were the thousands of pounds of pumpkins, many of which will be turned into boats for a race on the Piscataquog River today at 3 p.m.
'That is the final use of the giant pumpkins,' said Jim Beauchemin, one of the event's organizers. 'What better way than to turn them into giant boats and race them?'
Beauchemin came up with the idea for the regatta in 2000 and said he can remember testing out the floating ability of a giant pumpkin at a local lake with Robbie Grady, executive director of the Main Street Program, not knowing how big the event would get.
The original regatta had just four pumpkins; 10 are registered this year, Beauchemin said.
'Look at the traffic, look at the smiles,' he added. 'This really brings out the happiness in people.'
Geddes said he had no idea at the beginning of the growing season how big his pumpkin would get.
'But by the end of the summer, there were indications that it was going to be pretty impressive,' he said.
Geddes leaves shortly for New York with his pumpkin, which will be displayed at the New York City Botanical Gardens with the other top two gourds.
Renowned pumpkin carver Ray Villafane will then chop up the pumpkins and use the pieces to create zombies and monsters at Grand Central Station.
Geddes said all of the pumpkins deserved recognition.
'I don't think there's a pumpkin here that isn't impressive,' he said.