Have you ever wondered what happens to all those losers in the giant pumpkin contests? While many communities send their expired jack-o-lanterns to the zoo to feed the elephants, what do you do with a 500 or 600 pound gourd that just does not make it onto the big scale at the county fair? Don’t worry any more, these poor underachievers in the world of gourdnormous produce have been reinvented to become leading characters in many cities around the world. From Belgium to Tualatin, OR these runner up pumpkins are given their day of infamy. Around the world towns and farms merge their interest to create pumpkin flotillas. There are pumpkin boat races in every state and many Canadian provinces along with Europe. Crowds turn out to watch the spectacle of costumed characters paddling 1,000-pound pumpkin boats in a series of wacky races.
Many farmers and farm cooperatives try to grow giant pumpkins as a sport. With the state and national winners pushing 3000 pounds it leaves a lot of room for local hobbyist to nurture the 500 to 800 pound gourds that can be great PR tools and now great pumpkin racers. So far Guiness has not announced the fastest pumpkin racer, but there are hundreds of contestants that every year at this time get their tow motors and their power saws out to hollow out the big gourds so that a person can stand or kneel inside the big gourd and row on the neighborhood lake. Most regattas or races involve muscular men with very large knives or power saws that open a hole in the top of the fruit provided by local farmers and then scoop out the pulp that makes most of the weight of the pumpkin. Each contestant has their own secret in deciding how big the opening should be and how much of the pulp to leave inside.
Hundreds of competitors, many dressed up as pirates, nuns, animals or vegetables, play this game. “My boyfriend told me about this event on one of our first dates and I thought it was hilarious,” said contestant Clara De Somer, who dressed up as a shark in Sunday’s event. Racing the huge vegetables takes some skill – “when you paddle, it doesn’t move forward but starts spinning,” local competitor Jonas Verbruggen said – and this year some fell in the water after their pumpkins took too much water. Racer Oscar Guell, a Spaniard living in Brussels, called the experience “dirty, sticky and oily” – before gleefully adding that he’d definitely be back next year.
While some towns just allow people to paddle around local lakes, more serious competitors have races and even multiple heats of the race so at day’s end a gourd and gourdgeous winner can be crowned. Some of the events throw in a scavenger hunt where there are floating elements in the lake containing small prizes and the winner not only has to be fast but able to navigate close enough to reach inside the pumpkin buoys and bring back the tokens to prove they made the entire obstacle course trip. It seems the number, complexity and popularity of these will only grow along with the demand for the big gourds.
A pumpkin says to a jack-o’-lantern “All we ever do is sit around on the stoop. Don’t you want to mix it up, try something different?”
The jack-o’-lantern says, “I don’t have the guts.”
I once won a pumpkin carving contest.
It was a hollow victory.
My brother and I work together at a gas station, filling up cars.
Now they call us pump-kin.
What happened to the pumpkin when he became a Jack-o-lantern?
He was gourd to death.
November 1st Birthdays
1998 – Kaylee Bryant, 1988 – Liana D’ Cruz, 1997 – Natalie Tena, 1972 – Jenny McCarthy
1935 – Gary Player and Chalres Koch, 1987 – Penn Badgeley, 1957 – Lyle Lovett