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As we slowly move into autumn, one national event captures attention each year—who has grown the largest pumpkin? I thought about the big pumpkin contests for a couple of years when I managed to grow a pumpkin that weighed nearly 150 pounds if I remember correctly. Perhaps a memory about big pumpkins is like big fish, they grow bigger in memory over time, but it was a big pumpkin.

I did a little checking and discovered that in 2019, 34 states held or are holding a big pumpkin contest, beginning with Alaska with its “Midnight Sun Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off” held last August in Palmer.

California has eight different pumpkin festivals scattered around the state. New Hampshire has five, as does Michigan. Four pumpkin festivals are noted for Wisconsin including the Nekoosa “Giant Pumpkin Festival slated for October 5-6.

Wondering who got the prize for the biggest pumpkin in 2018? This giant of all pumpkins for the year weighed 2,528 pounds and was grown by a fellow in New Hampshire and exhibited at the Deerfield Fair in that state.

Quickly realizing that with my sandy, western Waushara County soil, my chances of growing a pumpkin weighing a ton were nil to none. So, taking the pumpkin by its stem, I decided to begin a new pumpkin contest. It’s a contest for the poor soil gardeners who never win anything in the “Big” category. Who can grow the smallest pumpkin? I offer the above as my entry. It is one inch across—a fully formed, orange pumpkin. Anyone with a smaller pumpkin?

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Small can be beautiful.

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to www.jerryapps.com 

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