© Guardian photo by Mitch MacDonald
Springvale farmer Alan Aten with his first-place winning pumpkin during the Giant Pumpkin and Squash Weigh Off at Vesey’s Seeds on Saturday. The prized pumpkin weighed 1,045 pounds.
YORK – A familiar name among Prince Edward Island's pumpkin growers took home first place at the Giant Pumpkin and Squash Weigh Off here this weekend with his 1,045-pound creation.
Springvale farmer Alan Aten won first place for his fifth time in the event’s 20-year history on Saturday at Vesey’s Seeds.
“It feels pretty good. It’s a lot of work though to get it there,” Aten said during an interview with The Guardian.
While it wasn’t as heavy as last year’s 1082.5-pound first place pumpkin, which was also grown by Aten, he said he was happy with this year’s winner.
“It’s pretty good for this year, I had five of them blow up,” he said, adding that the pumpkins can blow up if they grow too fast, see a heavy rain or are over-fertilized. “As long as the big one stays together I guess.”
The 20th annual weigh off saw hundreds pack Vesey’s Seeds whether to see some massive pumpkins, drink some cider, go for a tractor ride or just to enjoy the long weekend. The event also saw a number of kid’s activities, including “gourd bowling” and a pumpkin toss.
Gordon Aten, who is Alan Aten’s brother and president of the P.E.I. Giant Pumpkin Growers Association, said the day was a success with an increase in crowd, pumpkins entered in the weigh off, as well as growers.
Many of those growers were also first-timers.
Gordon said the amount of younger individuals and first-time growers entering the weigh off was encouraging, with some of the older growers now retiring.
“We want to have new people all the time,” he said. “We had a few new first time growers. One of them had an over 900-pounder. Good, that’s what we want.”
That new grower was Gordon Ellis, whose 902-pound pumpkin also won the award for best looking.
Ben Simpson won the award for closest to 200 pounds, while Jana Vessey had grown the biggest squash at 513.5 pounds.
Alan Aten also placed first in the field pumpkin category with 113.5 pounds.
He laughed when he was asked what the hardest part of pumpkin growing is.
“Not having them blow up.”