By: Anthony Gonzalez staff Reporter
September 28, 2013
Jason Gagne of Blairsville, GA. and Chris Kent of Sevierville, TN earned some bragging rights at the 17th Annual Yadkin Valley Pumpkin Festival held last weekend in Elkin.
Gagne submitted a beast-sized pumpkin weighing in at a whopping 1,010 lbs earning him first place in the competition.
Gagne received $1,000 for having the heaviest pumpkin, a prize given by festival officials.
Kent received $400 for having the heaviest watermelon. The watermelon weighed in at 297.1 lbs. According to pumpkin weigh-off officials, Kent’s watermelon is the heaviest watermelon ever weighed in the United States.
“I used to grow regular pumpkins just for fun and local farmer asked me to help him unload a pumpkin out of his truck,” said Gagne in an interview. ” I needed a forklift to get it out. That experience was enough for me. I was hooked ever since.”
This year is not the first pumpkin patch planted by Gagne. He holds the current state record in GA with a prior pumpkin that weighed in at 1252.
Growing pumpkins requires a lot of time and patience, said Gagne.
“You have to give everything to the plant. You fertilize, fungicide the crop, and you really have to learn soil biology. Each plant is 1,000 square feet wide. You never know after planting. We’ve had a lot of floods, so I lost several plants,” said Gagne.
“I don’t weigh my pumpkins before the competition. I like the anticipation,” he said. “I find out when the crowd finds out,” said Gagne.
“I planted in early May,” said Kent. “We had a lot of trouble with the rain this year. I guess the advise I can give is not to mow your grass. You simply have to give your watermelon plenty of love and affection.
Last year’s pumpkin winners, Frank and Tina Finder of Lexington, S.C., took home the title of biggest pumpkin at 972.2 pounds and also won first place with largest watermelon.
In 2011, The Finder family scored the largest pumpkin that weighed in at 1,140 pounds.
The 2013 official weigh station was located in the parking lot of The Liberty on Main St. The lot was divided in half for the weigh-off and for the Elkin Farmer’s Market. According to farmers who submitted pumpkins in prior festivals, the change in location off Main Street into the parking lot was considered an improvement. Farmers were able to drop off each item as early as 7 a.m. and not interfere with Main Street traffic and vendor booth coordination.
The pumpkin weigh-off was a featured segment for the Yadkin Valley Pumpkin Festival, an event that attracted several thousand spectators into downtown Elkin throughout the day. The festival provided crafts, food, musical entertainment, and family-friendly activities for children.
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