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Photo: Topsfield Fair
Each year the quest for the Giant Pumpkin honors happens at the Topsfield Fair. This year, at the 39th All New England Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off, the winner was Steve Sperry of Johnston, Rhode Island. The award garnered a cash prize of $6,500.
Sperry told The Salem News in an interview about his win: “It’s a lot of work. I’m retired, but I probably put in about 30 hours a week just on pumpkins alone — and then in addition to that I have a vegetable garden, fruit trees, a house, and a wife, so it’s a stretch,” said Sperry. First planted in April, for the past five months Sperry has been carefully measuring, feeding, watering, and estimating the progress of his pumpkin to ensure that it would be ready for the main event. At the peak of its growing period, from day 30 to day 40, the giant pumpkin grew an average of 49.4 pounds a day. The Topsfield Fair is the greatest show on Earth,” said Sperry. “It was a fantastic day…”
See photos from the event here: https://topsfieldfair.smugmug.com/2023/Giant-Pumpkins-2023/
Sperry’s nurtured pumpkin weighed in at 2,198 pounds and it is the third time he has won the contest. He won in 2020 for a pumpkin weighing 1,986 pounds.
About the Weigh-Off
The All New England Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off began at the Topsfield Fair in 1984, an off-shoot of the fair’s Family Garden Largest Cucurbit Contest still held today in the vegetable barn. That year the winning pumpkin, grown by Wayne Hackney of New Milford, CT, weighed 433 pounds and he was awarded $100.
In 1989 Hackney joined Hugh Wiberg, who had started growing these giant cucurbits in the 1960’s, and Tom Cone to form the New England Pumpkin Growers Association (NEGPGA) http://www.bigpumpkins.com and Topsfield Fair became the official weigh-off site. Wiberg had become interested in growing giant pumpkins after hearing of Howard Dill of Nova Scotia, whose 438 pound pumpkin set a world record in 1979 and word of the now famous Dill’s Atlantic Giant Pumpkin Seeds spread through the growing community of giant pumpkin enthusiasts.
The weigh-off in Topsfield has received world-wide recognition and become so popular that a cut-off weight had to be instituted. All entries must now weigh at least 300 pounds. In 2008 the top 25 entries, out of 56, weighed more than 1,000 pounds!
In 2002 Charlie Houghton of New Boston, NH brought international recognition to the NEGPGA and to Topsfield when his 1337.6 pound pumpkin was deemed the largest ever grown in the world and he was officially entered into the Guinness World Book of Records. He was awarded $5,000 by the fair that year and his pumpkin was carved into what was deemed to be the world’s largest Jack O’Lantern at a New Hampshire garden Center.
The record fell at Topsfield in 2007 when Joe Jutras of North Scituate, RI brought in a 1,689 pumpkin…and again in 2012! The 2012 Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off held at Topsfield fair was, without a doubt, the most exciting Weigh-Off to date. The world’s first one ton pumpkin, grown by New Englander Ron Wallace from Greene, RI, weighed in at a whopping 2009 pounds. Topsfield Fair is home to the first ONE TON pumpkin ever grown in the world. Steve Connolly from Sharon, MA managed to grow a giant pumpkin weighing in at a whopping 2075.5 lbs. The giant pumpkin set a new record for the state of Massachusetts and the Topsfield Fair NEGPGA weigh-off.
In 2022, there was a NEW Topsfield Fair record – Jamie Graham of Tyngsboro, MA brought a pumpkin that would break the 2012 record. His locally grown pumpkin weighed 2,480 pounds!
The Topsfield Fair runs until October 9th. More info here: https://www.topsfieldfair.org/
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