Giant vegetables, fish flinging produce smiles at Coupeville's Harvest Fest

The scents of kettle corn and mini doughnuts mixed with friendly conversation as the Central Whidbey community gathered for Coupeville’s Harvest Festival on Saturday.

Adults and children cheered at the sidelines of a relay race to raise money for Gifts from the Heart Food Bank. The crowd seemed to get a big kick out of the team named the Rosehip Potheads from Rosehip Farm and Garden, whose members ran around the field tossing cabbages and tomatoes while wearing hats made of gardening pots.

Members of the Central Whidbey Lions Club, Coupeville teachers, town officials, the Pacific NorthWest Art School and more flung fish and raced with wagons full of pumpkins.

The relay raised $8,500 for Gifts from the Heart. The Rosehip Potheads raised more than $3,200, the most earned by a single team.

“That’s more than we raised last year,” said Gifts from the Heart President Molly Hughes, adding how helpful the funds will be since the food bank is serving more families than ever.

Ava Rose and Kyra Jolie Levit watched from the sidelines with hands full of kettle corn. Kyra laughed as the racers flung fish at each other.

“What a great day to come to town,” exclaimed their mother, Jody Levit. The family only made it into town the day before, having moved from Alaska.

Attendees had a few minutes to shop at the final Farmers Market of the season before the 16th annual Giant Pumpkin Contest, an annual fixture at the festival.

The giant zucchinis were weighed first, with the largest true zucchini weighing in at 17 pounds, grown by Peter Case-Smith. He also raised a 36-pound accidental blend of zucchini and pumpkin. Lee Roof, who facilitates the contest each year, said he couldn’t decide whether to call it a “pump-zini” or a “zucchini-kin.”

Twelve-year-old Luke Carlson stared at the giant zucchinis from the sidelines.

“How is that humanly possible?” he exclaimed. Carlson said he attends the festival every year and might try his hand at growing a giant vegetable next year.

As all the pumpkins were weighed, it came down to Roof and Phil Renninger for the largest pumpkins. Renninger holds the Coupeville record with a pumpkin weighing more than 1,000 pounds.

After keeping the crowd in suspense, Renninger was named the second place winner with his 562-pound giant.

Roof’s first place champion weighed 770 pounds.

The “Linus Award” is given to the smallest giant pumpkin. It was awarded to Mike Wilson, whose pumpkin decorated with Mr. Potato Head pieces weighed 30.5 pounds.

Children chose the ugliest and prettiest pumpkins. Renninger won prettiest and Robert Warder won ugliest.

The Oak Harbor Youth Center Garden Club won the largest pumpkin in the junior division with a 134.5-pound pumpkin.

The winners were given gift certificates and prizes from local businesses.

Jane Adams assists with the youth center’s garden club. She brought her dog Boots to the festival.

“It’s great, it’s always great,” Adams said as she wandered through the smiling, chatting crowd.

“It’s wonderful,” attendee Judy Lynn said about the festival. “We lucked out with great weather. It’s a really fun event and it really exemplifies our community coming together. They raised a lot of money today for the food bank.”


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