Pumpkins donations needed for annual trail

Pumpkins donations needed for annual trail
Right Gourd For The Job | News, Sports, Jobs
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Celebrating its 45th year, the contest, often dubbed the Super Bowl of pumpkin weigh-offs, has always been extremely popular with pumpkin growers. However, it has become even more so since supermarket chain Safeway, which sponsors the event, increased the maximum prize to $30,000 in 2015. To qualify for this World Record Prize, competitors have to produce a World Record pumpkin. This year, that meant one heavier than the gargantuan 2,624-pound pumpkin, which broke the previous world record at the Giant Pumpkin European Championship in 2016. If the heaviest pumpkin weighs less, the owner receives $7 per pound, which, given the size of the gourds, adds up to thousands of dollars in cash.

Local farmers and produce dealers have offered tips on carving the perfect pumpkin for Halloween. Often, experts say pumpkins with the most unique shapes make the some of the best creations. P-J photos by William Mohan

Pick your own pumpkins at these 5 farms in the Lancaster County region

However, nothing says Halloween like a carved pumpkin. To that end, some local farmers and produce dealers provided The Post-Journal with tips for a successfully-carved and beautiful-looking gourd.

This years event, which took place on October 8, 2018, attracted more than 20 beefy pumpkins. Thousands of spectators cheered as the gorgeous fruits were carefully placed on the digital weighing scale with the help of forklifts. Though 12 came in at more than 1,000 pounds each, it was three-time winner Steven Daletas who took home the top prize of $15,190, and the coveted Mel Mello Sr. Grand Champion Growers jacket, for his 2,170-pound, pale orange gourd.

The time when the carving takes place decides how well a pumpkin will look. The fresher the pumpkins the better, most growers agree.

Every October, farmers across the US harvest millions of pumpkins. Some make it to the dinner table in the form of delicious soups or pies, while others get transformed into scary Halloween monsters. Then there are the select few whose only purpose is to win contests like the Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off held annually in Half Moon Bay, CA – the self-proclaimed World Pumpkin Capital.

Ashley Willebrandt of Harvest View Greenhouses in Fredonia suggests picking a pumpkin that is sturdy in structure. She said the pumpkin should also have a stem that enables lifting it. This will ensure that once the carving is complete, it will be stable as long as it is to be displayed. This may be difficult depending on how well pumpkin crops have fared in the planting and growing seasons.

Several pumpkins pictured at Pumpkintown in Busti. Several local growers say carving your gourd a week before Halloween will lead to best results.

Those unable to attend the competition will be able to admire the four heaviest pumpkins at Half Moon Bays two-day Art and Pumpkin Festival on October 13 and 14. Following the event, Daletas plans to load the masterpiece on to his truck and take it back to Oregon, where it will be displayed in front of his house.

“The greener the stem of the pumpkin the fresher your finished carving will be,” Willebrandt said. In addition, weight ensures the structure of the carving will last. “The heavier a pumpkin the better the cariving.”

The earlier in the month the pumpkin is carved the sooner it will begin to rot and become unsightly. Aber offered a timing suggestion: “If you want the carving to last up to and during Halloween, it is best to carve about a week before,” Aber said.

“I carve three to four days before Halloween if you want it around then,” added Willebrandt.

For those who choose to carve exotically or want to think outside the box, the best advice is to pick the most unusual gourds.

“Some of the most awkwardly shaped pumpkins make for the most unique carvings,” Willebrandt said.

Next, it is important to find the right tools to cut, empty, and carve the pumpkin. At the same time, it is important to make sure anything can be placed inside. Safety is especially key and in particular with children.

Fortunately there are tools available that meet both requirements. Common household items will work, but for the best results specialty knives and tools are recommeneded.

“I would recommend serrated knives that are specially designed with pumpkins in mind,” said Noreen Anderson of Anderson’s Produce, who admits she likes using serrated knives around children because the potential for injury is more minimal.

“I reccomend a pearing knife, lemon zester, Xacto knives and clay sculpting tools,” Willebrandt said.

For those who want different designs not offered by knives, Andersond recommended templates that cut a specific pattern or shape.

“I enjoy using Christmas lights, and I used to have my grandson place them in the trees I could not reach,” Anderson said.

Summer officially ended on Sept. 22 with the the fall equinox, but that didnt halt record-breaking temperatures …

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