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The City Journals

Pumpkins place at Oquirrh Lake regatta race

Dec 02, 2016 03:20PM ● By Mylinda LeGrande

Participants for the regatta dressed up in costumes. (Ryan Welling/ Welling Photography)

By Mylinda LeGrande | [email protected]

On the morning of Oct. 22, pumpkins were carefully loaded onto trailers and into the back of trucks all over Utah to be transported to Oquirrh Lake in Daybreak. Once there, they were lifted by a crane onto the dock where they were carved out to be used for boats for the Ginormous Pumpkin Regatta.

The sixth annual event was started by Mountain Valley Seeds and Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers Association. Usually, it is held at Sugarhouse Park, but this year the two sponsors contacted Daybreak as they were looking for a new home for the regatta. 

Participants in the race included Robb Baumann, Cliff Warren, Lance Heaton, Curt and Susan Saxton, Daniel Farr, Mohamed Sadiq, Jim Seasons, Juana Laub, Kyle Fox, Lindsey Bench, Reed Bateman and Clint Nash. Hundreds of spectators attended to watch. There were also other games and activities for kids to enjoy.

The regatta included two race heats. One was a junior division for kids and the other heat was for adults. Those with the fastest times competed in a final race for prizes. 

“This is a five-week process. It starts with a weigh-in at Thanksgiving Point. This is the next event,” said Live Daybreak’s communications manager, Tanner Gooch. “Next, the pumpkins are taken to Hee Haw Farm for a pumpkin drop and finally, the pieces are donated to [Hogle] Zoo for the animals to eat on at the Pumpkin Stomp event held on Thanksgiving Day.” 

One participant, Clint Nash was prepared to race in someone else’s pumpkin, dressed up in Scottish garb along with Dan Farr who was wearing a Loch Ness Monster suit. 

“I am using someone else’s pumpkin because mine died. The smallest out here is at least 400 pounds,” said Nash. “There is a lot of work that goes into growing them. We get seeds from other growers. We pollinate the seeds ourselves so we can keep track of the genealogy of the seeds. We share and buy them with each other and even all around the world.” 

Juana Laub traveled from Vernal to participate in her first Pumpkin Regatta. 

“I was scared, but not anymore. I’ve been out practicing, and now that I’ve already been in the water, I’m ready. No way I’m going to win,” Laub said with a laugh, “I might even tip!”  

Laub holds the record in Utah for growing the largest pumpkin for the women’s division in Utah. It tipped the scales at 1,315 lbs.

The first place winner of the contest, Robb Bauman, got the rights to the wooden pumpkin trophy. Lindsey Bench, took second place and Kyle Fox took third place.

“I’m here as a supporter because my [pumpkin] didn’t get big enough. It was only 350 lbs. The pumpkins need to be around 450-500 lbs. to be able to ride in them. It’s hard when you spend time growing them and they don’t get big enough and you have to watch. This year it was so hot and dry, they didn’t have a chance to pollinate,” said, Brian Bennett.

It takes effort, patience and love to grow a gigantic pumpkin.

“The first step in growing giant pumpkins is to obtain the right kind of seed. One-thousand-plus pound pumpkins generally result from high-pedigree hybrid seeds, which circulate among the most serious growers and cost $10 to $100 per seed,” reports “But most giant pumpkins are descended from a variety called Dill’s Atlantic Giant. 300–500-pound specimens are routinely grown with this variety.”

The current world record for the largest pumpkin is held by Beni Meier, Germany, at 2,323.7 lbs.

Local growers say to start growing pumpkins with good soil, amending the soil throughout the season, watering it just the right amount, providing the pumpkin enough sun in the beginning and shading the pumpkin toward the end. Some growers protect their squash from the wind and even build shelters for them. 

The National Gardening Association says to be sure to reposition the fruit on the vine, so it is perpendicular to the stem to encourage the best growth. They also recommend thinning the fruit so there is just one per vine and pruning it back as needed. Another trick is to add a little sugar to the water and to cover the pumpkins with layers of blankets to protect them from cold air.

Sponsors of the regatta were The Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers, MV Seeds, Live Daybreak, Holmes Homes and True Leaf Market, LLC.