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Giant pumpkins tip scales in Spring Hope: National weigh-off to become annual tradition

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SPRING HOPE — It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! Well, close enough.

Postponement of the annual Spring Hope National Pumpkin Festival didn’t stop giant pumpkins from arriving from all over the country Saturday via pickup and forklift. To slake residents’ thirst for all things pumpkin this time of year, the Spring Hope Area Chamber of Commerce hosted its first-ever Great Pumpkin Commonwealth Weigh-off.

The winner — a 1,661.5-pound record breaker — belonged to Kerry Gross of Thomas, West Virginia. 

“I like to grow giant pumpkins,” Gross said.

The weigh-off was well attended and participation was great, said Ethan Vester, the chamber’s vice president. 

Plans are for the weigh-off to become part of the larger pumpkin fest when it returns next year, organizers said.

Held at the downtown train depot, the weigh-off offered cash prizes for several categories including 1,000-pound pumpkins, 250-pound watermelons and local staple sweet potatoes. Growers of the largest gourds and vegetables received $1,000, $500 and $250 for first, second and third places. 

The chamber teamed with Great Pumpkin Commonwealth, the world’s leading authority on competitive vegetable and fruit growing. The group’s mission is to cultivate the hobby of growing giant pumpkins throughout the world by establishing standards and regulations that ensure quality of fruit, fairness of competition, recognition of achievement, fellowship and education for all participating growers and weigh-off sites.

The weigh-off was the chamber’s second big event of the year. In August, the chamber hosted a reverse raffle with all proceeds going to fund small business grants. Winners of the four-way split of $5,000 were Amy Noland, Michael Ward, Marshal Whitehurst and Magdalene Bartholomew. They received $1,250 each.

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