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My Intern Edition story took me to Topsfield, MA last weekend to report on the 188th annual Topsfield Fair. Following a core team of five pumpkin growers over two days, I became well-versed in the particulars of growing the mythical giant pumpkin.
A squash of fantastic proportions, giant pumpkins can gain 30 to 40 pounds per day and require 500 gallons of water per day to support that fattening regimen. Each summer throughout New England, dedicated growers resign themselves to the garden for three whole months in hopes of winning the giant pumpkin weigh-off.
Five members of the Ipswich Bay Giant Pumpkin Growers Association invited me to help pick each others' special harvest. Using a tripod, which was once employed to move gravestones, they carefully lifted each pumpkin and placed it on a palette covered with rugs and couch cushions. The next morning, "convoys" of pumpkin growers arrived at the Topsfield Fair from across New England. They began unloading the pumpkins at 6 a.m. and the weigh-off got underway around nine.
Throughout the events of the morning, I interviewed both young and old to try to determine why they were obsessed with a vegetable that is - they admit it - ugly. With many weighing in at over 1,000 pounds, giant pumpkins maintain a variety of globular shapes and unusual colorings. At 1 o'clock, the judges announced the winner as the weight flashed on the digital screen: 1,347 pounds, a new Topsfield Fair record!
-Lindsey Larson, Radio Expeditions