Pa. couple takes honors at pumpkin weigh-off
By ELISE McKEOWN SKOLNICK
Paul and Cheryl Fulk drove five hours pulling a car trailer to participate in the Ohio Valley Giant Pumpkin Growers pumpkin weigh-off.
It was worth it, the Halifax, Pa. couple said, when the giant pumpkin they were towing was declared the heaviest pumpkin at the weigh-off.
They estimated the pumpkin to weigh about 1,610 pounds, but it weighed in at 1,744.5 pounds, making it the winner of the event Saturday at Park’s Garden Center.
Second place went to Quinn Werner, of Saegertown, Pa, with a pumpkin weighing 1,661.5 pounds. Werner estimated his pumpkin to weigh 1,424 pounds.
Cheryl Fulk started to get nervous at that point, because the Fulk pumpkin was estimated to be the heaviest, and Werner’s wasn’t estimated to be in the top three.
“I wasn’t sure [we would win] when Werner came in heavy,” she said. “Because his was above what we were estimated at.”
The Ohio Valley Giant Pumpkin Growers has 275 members and is an official weigh-off for the Giant Pumpkin Commonwealth. The commonwealth conducts more than 100 weigh-offs in many countries to determine the world champion.
Many giant-pumpkin growers obtain seeds from past giant-pumpkin winners, noted Tim Parks, owner of Park’s Garden Center.
However, the Fulks grew their giant pumpkin from seeds out of a 220-pound pumpkin. Though it wasn’t giant-sized, it was grown from the seed of a world- record winner and pollinated with a flower from the same world record winner.
At its peak, the winning pumpkin grew nearly 50 pounds a night. It was still growing 3 to 4 pounds a night when the couple cut it off the vine.
The couple has been growing giant pumpkins for five years. This is their second year competing.
“We got third here last year,” Paul said.
That pumpkin weighed in at 1,643 pounds.
“I’m ecstatic,” Cheryl said about winning this year.
Paul spends about 40 hours a week tending to the six pumpkin plants that produce their giant pumpkins.
“Normally, I’m out there three nights a week and a day during the weekend,” Cheryl said. “He’s the brains behind the operation. I’m the slave labor.”
The top 10 pumpkins in the weigh-off all weighed more than 1,300 pounds. Vince Cappitte, who told a Vindicator reporter earlier this week that he expected his entry to come in around 1,000 pounds, just about hit the mark. His pumpkin weighed 996 pounds.
Prizes also were awarded for heaviest categories of giant pumpkin, watermelon, tomato and Halloween pumpkin. Also included were widest sunflower head and longest gourd.
The Fulk pumpkin weighed more than the current Ohio record holder. The Ohio record of 1,725 pounds is held by Christy Harp of Massillon. The couple resides in Pennsylvania, however, and that record is held by Dave and Carol Stelts of Edinburg, Pa., whose record-holding pumpkin weighed 1,807.5 pounds.