September 19, 2008
 
Goffstown man wins again

GOFFSTOWN - What has thick skin, a seedy interior, and weighs 1,022 pounds?

The winning pumpkin at the 133rd Rochester Fair at the Giant Pumpkin Weigh In Saturday morning.

Jim Kuhn, 76, of Goffstown, who has won four times in the past at the Rochester Fair, was crowned a fifth time after his pumpkin, one of the "Atlantic Giant" variety, beat out the 1,003-pound orb cultivated by Geoff "Boss Hog" Pierce, of New Boston.

Kuhn, who began growing giant pumpkins in 1991, and found "the right seed" in 1992, had been on a five-year hiatus from competition at the Rochester Fair.

"I used to come here every year. It's nice to come back and win one," he said. Kuhn will have bragging rights for the next year, albeit limited bragging rights. "Here only. Not nowhere else."


Geoff Pierce, left, and Jim Kuhn watch a forklift pick
up Kuhn'swinning giant pumpkin at the Rochester Fair Saturday.

Robin Langlois, superintendent for the pumpkin weigh-in, said, "They (the winning pumpkins) will go in the patch (in the exhibition hall), and school tours come in."

While Kuhn won the adult division, a newcomer to giant pumpkin growing won first place in the junior division with his debut effort.

Ben Coffman, 13, of Farmington, won with a pumpkin weighing 445 pounds. He was all grins afterward.

"My neighbor helped me. I had some support from my family," said Coffman.

He plans to continue his new hobby. "I got the bug now. It's contagious. Very contagious."

Bruce Hooker, 56, of Belmont, in his first year of competition took home the bronze in the adult competition with a 939-pound pumpkin. Hooker was followed by Hiram Watson and Angela Squires, both of Farmington, who had pumpkins weigh in at 879 pounds and 738 pounds.


Geoff Pierce, left, and Jim Kuhn weigh Kuhn's winning
pumpkin in at 1,022 pounds Saturday at the Rochester Fair.

Davis, who grew a pumpkin of the "Bird Bath" variety, says she is fine with finishing last or second to last, as she typically does.

"That's my comfort zone," she laughed.

So what does it take to grow one of these monsters?

"Proper nutrients and a lot of luck," said Kuhn. "We use fish fertilizer, seaweed pulp, and blood meal. We make up a tea that is brewed like 24 hours and then put that down."

He added there are no steroids, and most of what is used is organic. Kuhn also trades seeds with people from around the globe, including Australia, Germany, France, Spain, England and Canada.

Bill Rodonis, 65, of Litchfield, was the winner at the Rochester Fair in 2007, and his pumpkin held the world record for about 25 minutes before someone at the Topsfield Fair in Topsfield, Mass., broke Rodonis' mark of 1,556 pounds.

Rodonis did not compete this year, but instead manned the forklift used for transporting the pumpkins from truck beds to the scale inside one of the exhibit halls. He said when he grows he uses similar nutrients, but his focus is elsewhere.

"I concentrate 100 percent on my soil. That is the big thing, the soil," Rodonis explained, adding, "You need the luck of the weather and everything else."

Hooker said New Hampshire falls in the proper latitude for effective growing of giant pumpkins.

"There is a whole section of the country that gives you a good growing season, and we are right in it," Hooker explained.

The process of growing the pumpkins begins May 1, when the plant is put in the ground, Rodonis explained. He said the plant will pollinate around July 1, and then grow for about 90 days.

In addition to trading and selling seeds, the growers also try to help out communities.

"We donate a lot of our seeds to clubs for auctions so they can raise money," said Rodonis, noting one seed sold for $850 at an auction. Good seeds at auctions can go for about $300, he said, while the average seed sells for about $75.

The amount of good seeds in each pumpkin varies, Rodonis added. He said he has seen a mere six seeds in a 1,500-pound pumpkin, but his 2007 winner had about 500 seeds.

The Giant Pumpkin Weigh In was sponsored by Easter Propane, and Joel Sherburne of Calef's Country Store in Barrington sponsored the trophies and ribbons.

In addition to enormous pumpkins Saturday, there was also a monster truck show, pig races, three performances under the Big Top by Circus Hollywood, and more.

On tap today is a 2 p.m. monster truck show, Circus Hollywood performances at 2 p.m., 5 p.m., and 7 p.m., along with more pig racing, and animals on show. For information go to www.rochesterfair.com.

RELATED INFORMATION

2008 GOFFSTOWN GIANT PUMPKIN WEIGH-OFF & REGATTA
Saturday & Sunday, October 18th & 19th

2008 GOFFSTOWN TRICK-OR-TREAT HOURS
Friday Oct. 31, 2008 from 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

 




 

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