Warren welcomes the giants Saturday


It's a huge year in pumpkin lore, and Frerichs Farmwill be right in the middle of it come Saturday.

On Friday, the first-ever ton-plus pumpkin was weighed in, at the Topsfield Fair's giant pumpkin contest in western Massachusetts. The winner, 2,009 pounds, was grown by Ron Wallace of Greene, R.I. Mr. Wallace, though, apparently has bigger things in store for Saturday's Freirichs Farm weigh-off.

"He said he's got one that girth-wise is bigger than the Topsfield pumpkin," an excited Mr. Frerichs said Monday. "We'll have to see how it weighs, but it's bigger than the 2,000-pounder he just weighed" — and an easy world record at that.

Records come and go at the annual Southern New England Giant Pumjpkin Growers' Giant Pumpkin Championship, now in its 19th year at Frerichs Farm. Last year's winner weighed out at "just" 1,661 pounds, but the 2,000-pound mark could easily have been hit if two other giants hadn't split open as they were being prepared for the show. The larger of the two actually split the morning of the competition, Mr. Frerichs recalls.

"You never know what you're going to see," he said.

Mr. Frerich's contest has grown into one of the most respected weigh-offs in the ultra-competitive giant pumpkin-growing world, and several thousand people are expected for the festivities. Here's a rundown:

Unloading of the biggest pumpkins grown in the area will begin at 9:30 a.m., the weigh-off will begin at noon, and the winning pumpkin will be weighed at approximately 3 p.m. In case of rain, the championship will take place on Sunday, Oct. 7.

There will be plenty of refreshments, “pumpkin coach” will shuttle people around, and corn and hay bale mazes will challenge adults and kids. There will also be a "longest gourd" contest.

There will be pumpkin-painting booths for the kids and numerous tents with seasonal arts and crafts, gifts and souvenirs for sale. Be sure to bring lawn chairs or blankets for the weigh-off.

Mr. Freririchs' weigh-off is sponsored by the Southern New England Giant Pumpkin Growers Association, the Department of Environmental Management's Division of Agriculture, and Frerichs Farm and Greenhouses to determine the largest pumpkin grown in the area each year and to crown an annual local champion. This is the 19th consecutive year that the contest has been held.

“There’s no better way to spend a fall afternoon than visiting a Rhode Island farm and seeing some of the biggest, most beautiful giant pumpkins grown anywhere,” noted Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit.

Frerichs Farm charges a $5 parking fee for the event. If you want to compete in the weigh-off, or if you need more information, call Barbara Frerichs at 245-8245. In case of rain, please call Frerichs Farm to confirm the date of the event.


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.