Brian Kenneally of New Minas could be a contender for heaviest pumpkin at the upcoming Annapolis Valley Giant Vegetable Growers weigh-off. – Submitted
By Kirk Starratt
If all continues to go well, a New Minas man has giant pumpkins that will no doubt be contenders to tip the scales as the heaviest at upcoming weigh-offs.
Brian Kenneally, the Annapolis Valley Giant Vegetable Growers treasurer, said he has three pumpkins this year that are doing very well and continue to gain girth daily. He plans to take one to the fifth annual Annapolis Valley Giant Vegetable Growers Competition and Weigh-Off at Glad Gardens in Waterville on Sept. 27 and 28.
The other two, including his largest, will continue growing another week in anticipation of the Windsor-West Hants Pumpkin Festival weigh-off on Oct. 5 at the Windsor exhibition grounds.
“You like to keep your biggest one growing as long as you can,” Kenneally said.
He measures his pumpkins every five days. On Sept. 20, the largest was at an estimated 1,400 pounds and still growing. He said it could potentially reach 1,600 or 1,700 pounds. Over the last six days, it had been gaining about an inch in circumference and about 10 pounds every day. He planted them on April 28.
Kenneally had a fourth pumpkin, which he took to the Windsor Exhibition earlier in the month. It weighed 802 pounds.
He said he also plans to take some giant tomatoes to the Annapolis Valley Giant Vegetable Growers weigh-off. Kenneally said he has a really big one that will weigh in excess of two pounds. He said he enjoys growing giant vegetables and fruit because of the challenges involved.
“You’ve got a new challenge every year,” Kenneally said. “You try to beat your personal best each year. We’ve had one of the worst weather years, but everything has worked out for me.”
He said some growers have had a really bad year and lost some big ones. He said he feels sorry for them. However, he’s aware of about a half dozen people that will have big pumpkins.
Kenneally said the first time he tried to grow a giant pumpkin it ended up weighing about 100 pounds. For the past several years, he has been working with Annapolis Valley Giant Vegetable Growers president Jeff Reid. He contacted Reid after reading about him in the newspaper. Together, they started the Annapolis Valley club.
“You have to have everyone working together to grow some really big ones,” Kenneally said. “You have to help each other. That’s why the club is going so well.”
Paul Ferguson, Annapolis Valley Giant Vegetable Growers vice-president and club co-ordinator for the weigh off, said this is the first year the Valley club is part of the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth. The worldwide organization sets rules and judging standards. Results from around the world are posted and statistics are kept. Ferguson said this would allow the Valley club to compete for international prizes. He said Windsor has been a Great Pumpkin Commonwealth site for several years.
“It’s open and fair competition for everyone,” Ferguson said. “Now, anyone can come to the competition, you don’t have to be a member.”
Ferguson said they expect to have about 50 competitors taking part in the upcoming weigh-off in Waterville. The event is free for spectators and there are also children’s competitions, games and activities that are also free. Ferguson said they expect to have about 20 children taking part in competitions.
“We think it’s important to get children growing at a young age,” Ferguson said. “We want it to have a family feel.”
Ferguson calls it “competitive gardening,” and it seems to be gaining in popularity. The Valley club has about 100 members.
Ferguson said Kenneally’s pumpkin could end up outweighing last year’s winner in Waterville, when Gerard Ansems took the top prize with a 1,616-pound pumpkin. Ansems took a bigger pumpkin to Windsor, which weighed 1,727 pounds, and won the top prize there. It ended up being the 10th biggest in the world last year.
Ferguson said they also have a contender to beat the world record for the longest long gourd this year. The world record is 137.5 inches and apparently there’s a gourd coming to the Waterville weigh-off measuring 139.5 inches.
All the details:
- Vegetable judging takes place at Glad Gardens in Waterville on Sept. 27, 7-9 p.m. Registration on Sept. 28 from 9-10 a.m., with final vegetable judging takes from 10-11:30 a.m. The pumpkin weigh-off is from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. The awards and presentations will be from 1-2 p.m.