HUNTSVILLE - Good grief, it’s the Great Pumpkin, Dana Shay.
Dana Shay of Huntsville stands behind his latest and biggest pumpkin, that is expected to reach more than 900 pounds by sometime this week.
With all due respect to Linus van Pelt of Peanuts fame, the best place to begin the search for the whimsical Great Pumpkin may not be in the fantasy neighbourhood of Charlie Brown and company, but is more likely to be found in a garden located just northwest of town.
This particular garden is the property of Huntsville resident Shay, whose hobby of growing great big gourds at his Glencairn Crescent home is the result of his own green thumb and his competitiveness.
“I belong to an organization called the Giant Vegetable Growers Association of Ontario. Your membership includes them sending you seeds for all these giant things like pumpkins, tomatoes and watermelons.”
He said he has been part of this group for two years now, joining after a friend in Novar challenged him to try growing large-scale plants.
“He handed me a plant for a giant pumpkin and said I’ll bet you mine will be bigger than yours at the end of the year. I beat him by 248 pounds, and that was 637 pounds.”
While 637 pounds for a pumpkin may sound extraordinary, that level appears to be a nothing more than a watermark to Shay, who is in the process of growing a pumpkin that, if everything goes according to plan, could surpass an astonishing 900 pounds by sometime this week.
It could also garner him some awards at a regional agricultural festival this weekend. Shay intends to take his renowned pumpkin to the Keene Pumpkin Festival near Peterborough this Saturday. He had one at the competition last year, coming in sixth with the 637-pound pumpkin that he grew as part of the bet he had with his Novar friend.
He said one of the reasons he continues to grow large-scale plants is that he enjoys the hobby. That and people tend to get a kick out of seeing the gigantic gourds.
“Everyone likes to stop by and see them. I carve them up at Halloween and the kids like to come by and have their pictures taken with them. It is also something relaxing for me to do when I get home from work.”
He said that the giant pumpkins are enjoyable to grow, adding that some can gain as much as 35 pounds in one day, especially during the peak growing time during the summer.
Although Shay’s pumpkin is impressive, he has quite a way to “grow” if he wants to reach the worlds’ record for the size of a pumpkin. That mark was set earlier this month by a man from Rhode Island, whose gigantic gourd came in at 2,009 pounds.
But if his neighbours are worried about feeling lonesome for the pumpkin while Shay has it away at the festival, he has made sure there is another gourd around to keep them company.
He has also grown a “smaller” pumpkin along with his much larger one, tipping the scales at more than 600 pounds.