It certainly made my pulse race to see the Wallendas' three-person chair pyramid on bicycles, as they inched their way along the high wire, but Ron Wallace's triumph literally made my jaw drop. Wallace is the Greene, Rhode Island, pumpkin grower whose entry in the Topsfield Fair's Giant Pumpkin Contest not only took the top prize for 2012, it shattered the pumpkin world record, breaking the one-ton barrier for the first time in history.
Neither Wallace--nor the Topsfield Fair--are newcomers to smashing pumpkin records, and I wish I'd attended the weigh-off on September 28, 2012, when Wallace's latest monster pumpkin tipped the scales at a whopping 2,009 pounds: a ton, plus 9 pounds for good measure. If you would have relished seeing grown men leaping into each other's arms while whooping at this feat, too, there's video of that momentous moment. Or, you can just imagine the scene, as meticulous pumpkin tending paid off, and the undisputed heavyweight champion shouted: "Ron Wallace is back! I'm back, Baby, I'm back!"
The first 1,000-pound pumpkin on record was grown in 1996, which tells you just how rapidly the stakes have been raised by impassioned pumpkin growers. Wallace set his first world record at the Topsfield Fair in 2006 with an orange orb that weighed in at 1,502 pounds. A year later, the crown was passed to fellow Rhode Islander Joe Jutras, who entered a world record-setting 1,689-pound pumpkin at the Topsfield Fair. New world records have been established annually since, and going into 2012, the weight to beat was 1,818.5 pounds: The 2011 world record was established by a couple from Quebec, Canada.
By all accounts, 2012 was an ideal growing year in New England, so it's certainly possible that Wallace's will be the largest pumpkin--and the largest fruit, since pumpkins are technically a fruit--on record for an extended reign. After all, how big can a pumpkin get? And... just what does one do with a gourd that weighs more than a full-grown bull moose?
My daughter has the answer: Bake the world's largest pumpkin pie! According to the Gardener's Network, giant pumpkins are definitely edible... albeit not as tender and tasty as their smaller brethren. They also offer Ten Secrets to Growing Record-Breaking Giant Pumpkins. BigPumpkins.com has plenty of "how to" articles for would-be giant pumpkin growers, too.
If you think you've got a ton-kin on the vine, let me know so I won't miss the next history-making moment of extreme pumpkin jubilation.