Power Produce

Fall fun, with pumpkins

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

At last fall’s Skagit Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival at Christianson’s Nursery, Dick Kilburn of Anacortes took home first place, and $1,000, for his 1,165-pound squash. (For reference, that’s about the same weight as a grand piano.)

While Kilburn’s giant orange orb was a clear winner, competitors from throughout Washington—from Lynden to Camano Island to Enumclaw, Mount Vernon, Coupeville, Auburn, Oak Harbor, and Glenoma—represented their hometowns by submitting award-winning pumpkins ranging from 224 to 918 pounds.

Gardening gurus point out that good seed, good soil and good luck are needed to produce vegetables of such admirable size and weight, but those seeking additional tips on what it takes to grow pumpkins that could provide fodder for as many as 1,000 Thanksgiving pies will want to attend the seventh annual Pumpkin Fest taking place Sat., Sept. 30 at the Mount Vernon-based nursery.

Even if the competitors aren’t willing to share all of their secrets, chances are good you’ll still be able to pick up growing guidance from the savvy horticulturists—and from representatives from the Puget Sound Giant Pumpkin Growers, who are partnering with Christianson’s for the seasonal soiree.

Other giant fruit and vegetable weigh-offs will be part of the free, family-friendly fun—as will pony rides, face painting, carnival games, an amateur pumpkin-carving contest, visits by the “Bat Lady,” toad races and more.

That same day, the nearby Burlington Harvest Festival at Skagit River Park will also be integrating power produce into its autumnal activities. But rather than checking gourds for their girth, they’ll be using a trebuchet—a fancy name for a medieval projectile device—for pumpkin pitch competitions, keeping track of both accuracy and distance to determine winners in each category.

And, in keeping with the slogan of “Where pumpkins fly and zucchinis zoom,” the event will also include zucchini car races in the kids zone, which will share space with pumpkin painting, pony rides, activity booths, inflatables, a pie-eating contest, a touch-a-tractor area, and more.

Live music by the Marlin James Band, free wagon rides to and from the parking lot to the festival, food vendors and more will also be part of the event that started in 2002 not only as a way to bring the community together, but also as a means to entice visitors to experience the fall season in the lovely environs of Skagit County. If you go, just watch out for flying pumpkins.

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