Pumpkins of the Gods

October 18, 2012 — Man, we are so lucky that the Halloween season coincides with pumpkin season. Just imagine if the official fruit of the holiday were a pineapple or a watermelon or a goddamn banana. We dodged a machine gun clip of bullets on that one. I mean, pumpkins are the right color to match Halloween decorations, the right size and shape for turning into decapitated heads, and there’s the extremely important fact that, under the right circumstances, they grow into gigantic, misshapen monsters. Perfect for Halloween.

Last week I accidentally saw the world’s largest pumpkin when I went to the Topsfield Fair. I didn’t know it was there in advance. I just wanted to eat funnel cake, see piglets, and jump on a rickety dark ride. The record-breaking squash weighed more than a freaking ton (Squash me? Squash you). If I remember The Food of the Gods right, that means we’ve solved world hunger. And that our children are going to top 50 feet.

You’d think that seeing the largest pumpkin on the planet would be the epitome of my experience with giant pumpkins this year. And in a way it was…because it weighed more than a freaking ton…but it was also a quick, unsatisfactory experience where the squash hid behind a glass case and mobs of people.

I needed to see more of these massive mutant marrows. So I went to Goffstown.

Every year, the small New Hampshire town holds its Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off and Regatta. The event includes most of the things you’d expect from a pumpkin festival: Pumpkin weigh-offs, pumpkin catapulting, pumpkin-based foods, pumpkin decorating and carving, as well as all the usual Fall fare.

But they also turn some of these vegetable gargantuas into row boats and oar them down the river that cuts through town. That’s the regatta part of the name.

Unfortunately, that was scheduled for the second day of this two-day event, and I was there for the first. I also somehow missed the pumpkin drop, where they hoist one of those big guys up by a crane and then drop it into an inflatable pool for an asteroid-in-the-ocean splash and instant pumpkin soup.

I suck as a field reporter.

However, I did make it for some of the catapult competition, where they loaded small pumpkins into counter-weighted wooden contraptions and then hurled the spheroid orange missiles at a board with holes in it moored out in the river. It was a way more exhilarating thing than it should have been. I think I might have cheered.

The sad story of it being #1 for 24 hours
was taped to the pumpkin's backside.
Most importantly, I saw giant pumpkins. A couple dozen, in fact, including the third-largest pumpkin on the planet. At 1,843.5 pounds, it actually held the top record for a good 24 hours before being unseated by the aforementioned one-tonner and some other pumpkin.

So I ended up accidentally seeing the largest and third-largest pumpkins in history. I’m going to call this Autumn a good one.

And Goffstown itself was great. Plenty of small-town charm, lots of stuff to do, and enough people to make it fun without crossing over into the uncomfortably crowded zone. But the stars were still the pumpkins. Even if we damage them as much as we can by carving them up, smashing them, catapulting them, dumping them into a river. But that just means we love them to death.

The person shown here is six feet tall.

Just missed the target.