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SPRING HOPE — While the town’s annual pumpkin fest has been canceled, this weekend will still be all about pumpkins in a big way.
The Spring Hope National Pumpkin Festival’s postponement doesn’t mean the town won’t have a bevy of big pumpkins on hand, said Ethan Vester, vice president of the Spring Hope Area Chamber of Commerce.
A gourd-growing competition similar to the N.C. State Fair’s contests will help make up for the lack of pumpkin-themed activities this year and dovetail with future festivals, Vester said.
For the first time, the town will host the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth, the world’s leading authority on competitive vegetable and fruit growing.
The weigh-off, held at the downtown Train Depot Plaza, will include competitions for all sorts of gourds and vegetables including pumpkins, watermelons and sweet potatoes, a local staple.
Registration opens at 9 a.m. with $10 entry fees. The weigh-off begins at 10 a.m. with awards presented promptly after the last entry is weighed.
According to organizers, Saturday’s Great Pumpkin Commonwealth Weigh-off will award the following cash prizes:
• Awards for Atlantic Giant Pumpkin will be $1,000 for first place; $500 for second place; and $250 for third place.
• Largest watermelon prizes will be $1,000 for first place; $500 for second place; and $250 for third place.
• The grower of the largest sweet potato will receive $500.
• Bushel gourd awards will be $250 for first place; $50 for long gourd; $50 for field pumpkin; and $25 for tomato.
• Ribbons will be given for the largest 10 pumpkins. Other prizes will be presented.
This year marks the first time since 1971 that there will be no pumpkin festival during the first weekend in October.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 49th annual festival, Nash County’s longest-running annual event, has been postponed until 2021.
Past festivals have drawn as many as 35,000 people from all over the country to Spring Hope — a definite no-no in the new normal of social distancing.