1000-pound pumpkins invade Fort Collins Nursery

Sam Sedoryk

The thought of eating vegetables is pretty spooky, but imagine if those vegetables were over 1,000 pounds.

The 11th annual Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off and Fall Jamboree, held this past Saturday by the Fort Collins Nursery, brought in the most incredible and massive pumpkins in the Rocky Mountain and plains area. Growers from all over the state, and other states like Nebraska and Wyoming, joined in to see who had the heftiest gourd.

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The event was judged by the Giant Pumpkin Commonwealth, the organization that sets the standard for what qualifies as a giant pumpkin.

“When you’re getting to this level, there is a lot of pride involved in it,” said Jesse Eastman, owner and general manager of Fort Collins Nursery. “(Growing) takes a tremendous amount of effort. … Growers pour their heart and soul into this.”

Attendees at the Pumpkin Weigh-Off enjoyed food and drinks and tractor hayrides, pumpkin bowling, face painting and cornhole for entertainment. Folks could also walk around the nursery to find their new fall plants and decor.

(Growing) takes a tremendous amount of effort. … Growers pour their heart and soul into this.” -Jesse Eastman, owner and general manager of Fort Collins Nursery

This year’s Weigh-Off brought in some especially outstanding pumpkins; in fact, some pumpkins weighed around or more than 1,000 pounds. 

Local growers, on average, spent around three months growing these pumpkins.

“It’s the challenge of growing,” said Chad New, a participant and president of the Rocky Mountain Giant Vegetable Growers. “I put a seed in the ground and see where it takes me.”

New is a local grower, and his submission weighed around 300 pounds. Last weekend, he entered a 1,000-pound pumpkin in a different weigh-off competition. 

The competition was categorized into four groups: kids division, prettiest pumpkin, heaviest squash and finally, the heaviest pumpkin. The first-place winner received a $1,800 prize, followed by $1,200 and $600 for second and third place.

“This is something you never get to see when you hear about a 1,500-pound pumpkin,” Eastman said. “You don’t really know how big that is until you come out here and see it is as big as a small car.” 

More information about the Fort Collins Nursery can be found on their website

This year’s winner was Andy Corbin, whose pumpkin weighed in at 1,491 pounds. Andy is a Wyoming grower, and his pumpkin broke the Wyoming state record. 

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Quinn Day won the kids division, with a pumpkin coming in at 291 pounds. 

Pumpkins were not the only thing categorized, as growers could also present other produce, like their tallest sunflower, longest zucchini and largest watermelon. 

To attendees, this event was a fun way to spend a fall weekend and be astonished.

“My friend told me about this event, and I really didn’t know pumpkins could get this large,” said Kayla Romero, a local attendee. “I really enjoy fall weekend activities like this.”

We’ve always been very community-oriented. … We are very grateful the community shows up for fun events like this.” -Jesse Eastman, owner of the Fort Collins Nursery

Once the excitement of the festival settles down, one may wonder: What in the world would you do with a 1,000-pound pumpkin? To some, it may serve as a fall decoration for their home, but other growers donate their seeds to local botanical gardens.

“Place the (pumpkins) where they can be enjoyed,” New said. “When someone sees a giant pumpkin, they can’t help but smile.”

There is so much care and research put into raising these pumpkins that the winning pumpkin’s seeds can go for quite a fortune.

Fort Collins Nursery worked with several local sponsors, such as Bank of Colorado and Odell Brewing, to organize this event. This year’s sales and proceeds will benefit The Growing Project, an environmental and agriculture group that promotes agriculture experience, education and advocacy. These donations aren’t unusual, given the attitude and goals of the business, which has been helping locals with gardening since 1932. 

“As a business, we’ve always been very community-oriented, and we sponsor a lot of community, and we are very grateful the community shows up for fun events like this,” Eastman said.

 Sam Sedoryk can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @samsedoryk.