If you’re shrugging right now — Pumpkins? So what? Pumpkins are everywhere this time of year — then you haven’t heard the big news. I mean the giant news.
Giant pumpkins — we’re talking orange squash that tip the scales at a few thousand pounds — are the star attraction at Kenosha’s Fall Festival.
This is the eighth year for the festival, set for Saturday in Veterans Memorial Park, 54th Street and Sixth Avenue.
Why feature prodigious produce?
“We try different things each year,” said Kris Kochman, the city’s community relations liaison and Pumpkin Grand Pooh-Bah, of the decision to add the pumpkin weigh-off in 2017. “Jim Ford is a giant pumpkin grower in Bristol, and he suggested we add a giant pumpkin contest.”
Kochman teamed up with the Wisconsin Giant Pumpkin Grower association” — who knew there was such a group? — for the contest.
Unfortunately, the weather was dreadful for the 2017 event, though the pumpkin growers, and a few hardy souls, did show up. The contest’s second year took place under pleasant fall skies, and this year’s event should be dry, too. (The weather forecast calls for temps in the mid 70s and sunny skies.)
This is one weigh-in where you want to be the heaviest; the prize is $1,000 for the heftiest pumpkin.
How does someone transport a gargantuan gourd? Kochman isn’t sure of the details, but she stresses that it is done “carefully.”
If you have a giant pumpkin lying around the house, bring it to the festival site from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday to register it for the contest. The only rule is that you must have grown it yourself.
As for what one can do with a colossal pumpkin, we’re thinking a world-record pumpkin pie topped with gallons of whipped cream.
Besides the ginormous pumpkins, free small pumpkins will be given away to the first 200 children at the festival, starting at 11 a.m. A DJ will play music. Other activities include a Hula Hoop contest, games and face painting.
“It’s really family friendly,” Kochman said,
with a digital subscription.
“And everything is free, unless you buy food and drinks.”
The Wisconsin Giant Pumpkin Growers will host the Kenosha pumpkin weigh-off. Entries will be weighed and measured starting at 11:30 a.m.
The growers are competing for prize money of $1,000 for the largest pumpkin, plus the all-important bragging rights. And a plaque! Runners-up will also win prize money and ribbons.
The group describes itself as “a social organization committed to the growing, teaching and sharing of giant fruits and vegetables in the Wisconsin area.”
The group focuses on “sharing information and friendship about the art, sport and challenge of growing giant fruit and vegetables.”
After steering Kenosha’s Tall Ships Festival earlier this summer, Kochman is looking forward to this one-day event.
“We were really happy about the huge turnout for the ships,” she said, “and we enjoyed perfect weather for the whole weekend, but it was really a lot of work.”
After taking a much-deserved week off, Kochman jumped ship ... to pumpkins.
“We moved this to earlier in September to fit with the Wisconsin Giant Pumpkin Growers schedule. This is actually the kickoff to their season,” she said.
“Kenosha is hosting the first Wisconsin giant pumpkin festival this fall, so we should have a good turnout.”
The festival attracted 12 giant pumpkins in 2018, and Kochman said the outsized squash “are all different colors and different shapes. A lot of people like to come just to see them. They also like to talk to the pumpkin growers and ask them about growing these giants.”
Also, the festival, she said, “is something inexpensive to do with kids. It’s the start to the fall season in Kenosha, even though it’s not fall yet.”