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They sure do grow them big



Published: Sun, October 7, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The top 10 pumpkins here weighed an average of 905 pounds.

By PAUL WHEATLEY

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

CANFIELD -- A world-record pumpkin didn't come out of the Ohio Valley Giant Pumpkin Growers seventh annual weigh-off Saturday at Parks Garden Center.

But directors believe Dave Stelts, last year's world-record holder, will get his name in the record books anyway.

Stelts, of Leetonia, set a world record last year with a monster, 1,140-pound pumpkin, and earned $1,500 by taking first place this year with a 1,053.5 pounder.

And while Stelts' record was broken by a world record 1,262 pounder in a Saturday show in Canby, Ore., and by a 1,260-pound gourd in a Massachusetts weigh-off last week, officials here believe Stelts is the first person to ever grow 1,000 pound pumpkins two years in a row.

Going for three: "We call him Michael Jordan," said Alan Gibson, growers association director. "He'll be trying for a three-peat next year."

This year, members of the Ohio Valley Pumpkin Growers set up an 11-foot-high steel lifting device to help weigh the gourds, which amaze judges by getting bigger each year. It replaces the old system of eight men -- usually with veins popping out of their necks and foreheads -- struggling to position 1,000-pound pumpkins on the scale.

This year also marked the first time the event was outdoors. A large crowd sat on a half-circle of hay bales to watch the event.

"The crowds are good size, but the pumpkins are a lot bigger," said Ron Moffet, one of the event's judges.

Moffet, who grew a 544-pound pumpkin that won the Canfield Fair contest in 1987, said he's amazed at how big the gourds are growing.

"Four or 500 pounds used to be big," he said.

This year, officials said, the top 10 pumpkins weighed an average of 905 pounds. They also had 69 pumpkin entries -- the most ever since the event opened in 1995.

About 22 sites across the country and Canada, which make up the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth, held similar events Saturday.

Growers brought other unusually large fruits and veggies for competition Saturday.

Neil Lanterman of Salem won $100 in the grand exhibitor category for having the largest pumpkin, watermelon and Connecticut pumpkin combination.

wheatley@vindy.com




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