Windthorst Lions held their 5th Annual Pumpkin Weigh-In Festival on Saturday, Sept. 30 in the Windthorst Rec Centre. A crowd of almost 200 gathered for the supper and weighing-in of the pumpkins. The 10 gardeners taking part had their pumpkins on display at the front of the hall with guests having a chance to purchase 50/50 tickets and guess the weight of the combined 10 pumpkins.
Ten gardeners were auctioned off this spring and once they received their seeds they were on their way to make plans to grow the best pumpkin. By the looks of this year's pumpkins on display the spring and summer weather of 2017 provided ideal growing conditions for some of the gardeners while others struggled.
Bernard Steele, Windthorst Lions member and one of the organizers of the Pumpkin Fest, emceed the evening welcoming everyone to the event prior to calling out table numbers for the supper. With supper and pumpkin pie finished the festivities continued when one by one the pumpkins were set on the scale for the official weigh in.
Results of the official weighing of all the pumpkins were as follows: Lorna McCarthy 2 lbs, Matt Hunter 20 lbs, Stacie Miskiman 36 lbs, Mindy Hazell 80 lbs, Collin Lemieux 150 lbs, Ross and Gabby 214 lbs, Bernard Steele 222 lbs, Wanda Reid 260 lbs, Dwight Larsen 516 lbs. And finally the biggest or heaviest of the evening, the pumpkin belonging to Karla Elliott weighing in at 562 lbs.
Now for those of you who are adding up the numbers the total weight of all ten combined came in at 2062 lbs. The 50/50 draw of $145.00 was won by Irene Pusch guessing within 3 pounds of the actual weight.
Gardener Karla Elliott was purchased by Norm's Place with a bid of $1,050 earlier this spring and they received a payout of $4,300 at the Weigh-In.
Elliott was presented with the 5th annual trophy where her name will be engraved giving her the bragging rights for the next year.
There was an added incentive for the gardeners again this year: 1st place Karla Elliott took home $500 for having grown the heaviest pumpkin, 2nd place Dwight Larsen $300 and 3rd place Wanda Reid $200.
Elliott was asked what her secret was to growing such a huge pumpkin.
“I started the seeds in my greenhouse, only two germinated, and grew them there until the second week of June. I brought in a trailer load of PIC compost for my pumpkin patch, and thoroughly worked that in hopping that it was not going to be 'too hot'! When I planted the pumpkins out I put a temporary greenhouse over them and did not remove it until the plants were about 6' big. I had my first pumpkin set on the second week of July but unfortunately after growing for about 10 day it burst (similar to a popcorn seed). The pumpkin that won the contest set on the beginning of August. I kept it constantly shaded and had a water wagon that was situated permanently in the patch. I would fill it and let the water warm up for a day and then release it on the patch via soaker hose. I was watering every second day, as we all know that nature did not help us this year!”
Elliott was asked if she had tried growing in different areas. “I had a stretch of ground that was 15' wide where I planted them and 30' apart. They soon overtook that area and started to vine out into my fruit trees!”
“I already have a quite extensive garden and flower beds so two extra pumpkins were just another day in my so called normal summer life!” answered Elliott when she was asked if she found it 'stressful' growing for the Weigh-In Festival.
“I offered the pumpkin up to Norm Jones and he has it sitting in his yard,” Elliott explains as to what she did with her pumpkin after the festival.
Elliott was asked if she plans on returning next year to try her luck again and if so did she have any other tips she would like to share on growing a huge pumpkin or is that a big secret?!
“I really enjoyed growing the past few years and now it is not only trying to grow the biggest amongst the other participants but also what can we do to surpass our last year's weight? My kids really enjoy the experience too and warned me that if I do not grow then they will!”
While PIC fertilizer was good for this gardener's pumpkins Gabby Lacasse says she used “good ol 'cow poop” in her and Ross' pumpkin patch.
The 5th Annual Pumpkin Weigh-In Festival profited approximately $3,000 and about $1,400 from the Harvest Hustle on Sunday morning.
“Without our growers we wouldn't be able to do this,” says Steele “so thanks to all our gardeners and of course the buyers and thanks to everyone for their support and hope you all enjoyed the festival.”
“Most of the Gardeners are talking like they will grow again but we are a long ways away from seeding,” Steele comments. “I also have several new people that are considering growing.”
The Lions Club is looking for any new gardeners who would like to try their luck in 2018.
Proceeds from the festival will go towards Lions projects including doing upgrades at the hall. Some of the upgrades include, but not started, the front entrance will have new doors, tin on the entrance. And a larger cement pad out front so wheel chairs can be unloaded straight onto cement.
“I would like to thank all that came out to the Great Pumpkin Weigh in. The community and surrounding communities have been fantastic with coming out to support our local Lions club,” says Steele. “As President of the Windthorst and District Lions I would also like to thank all the Lions for their commitment to this project and all other projects that we continue to complete around the district.”
“Our plans will be to continue the pumpkin growing contest next year although we would love to expand the evening and add something new,” comments Steele. We'll have to wait and see what that may be!! Stay tuned!!
Steele also adds if anyone is interested in joining this service group (Lions Club) please call 224-4705 or stop-in to see him. Women are also encouraged to join as well.