Ron Wallace was close, but not close enough.
For a week, anticipation was building that the pumpkin the Greene, RI resident planned to enter in Saturday’s Giant Pumpkin Weigh Off at Frerichs Farm would beat the world-record weight he reached with a different pumpkin at the Topsfield Fair in Topsfield, Mass. Last week’s winner tipped the scales at 2,009 pounds, the first ever over one ton, and there was speculation that his second pumpkin, cut from the vine Friday, would beat it and set a new world record. After all, the pale yellow giant was two inches larger in diameter than the 2,009-pounder.
Alas, it was not to be. At around 3:30 p.m. volunteers carefully hoisted Mr. Wallace’s pumpkin off its pallet and gently placed it on a scale, as several hundred spectators stared at the digital scale in quiet anticipation: 1,872 pounds.
The pumpkin is a Frerichs Farm record, but fell 138 pounds shy of a new record.
“It’s OK,” Mr. Wallace told friends directly after the weigh-off. “It’s a big pumpkin.”
That it was. And there were plenty of other big things at Saturday’s all-day festival at Frerichs. The crowds
were big, at several thousand over the course of the day. The gourds were big — in the longest gourd contest, Joe Jutras won with a 10-foot, 3/8th incher. And the watermelons were downright huge. The largest of two entered into competition tipped the scales at 153 pounds.
The largest local pumpkin, grown on Prudence Island by Ed Giarusso, tipped the scales at 1,422 pounds — a personal best.
Dave Frerichs, who still acts like a kid when he points out this pumpkin or that, ran around most of the day, emptying trash cans, talking to visitors, pointing out the finer points of giant pumpkin growing to curious spectators, and taking time to stop and shake hands whenever he could. Years ago, he said, you’d be lucky to get a 200-pound pumpkin. But then growers started crossing pumpkins, making pumpkin/squash hybrids and pushing the weights up and up. To think that pumpkins can top a ton, he said, is incredible.
“They just keep getting bigger, and who knows where there’ll stop?”