Half-ton pumpkin sets record
By NATHAN WHALEN
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
October 13, 2009 · 2:21 PM
The celebration of the final farmers market of the year turned out to be a record breaker.
This year’s winning entry was the heaviest ever weighed during the giant pumpkin contest, which takes place annually during Coupeville’s Harvest Fest.
The colossal gourd weighed in at a robust 1,016 pounds, the first time the Coupeville contest ever had a pumpkin break the 1,000-pound barrier.
Coupeville resident Phillip Renninger, a local physical therapist, grew the award-winning pumpkin, which was also a personal best for him.
“You’re always always trying to look for bigger and better,” Renninger said, crediting his success in 2009 to his use of compost tea soil to grow the winning pumpkin.
Renninger, who had been gardening off and on for most of his life, said that he planted the seeds indoors in April and a plant started to sprout between 36 and 48 hours later. After giving some tender loving care for about a week, he transplanted it outdoors in an area that offered protection should a frost occur. He said the vine was 10-to-15-feet long when pollination took place. That way the pumpkin was guaranteed a maximum growth.
He has participated in the giant pumpkin contest before, but his previous best effort was a relatively meager 820 pounds.
There were approximately 15 pumpkins that entered in the 2009 contest. Contest organizer Dr. Lee Roof placed second with an 828 pound pumpkin and a distant third was Clinton resident Christyn Johnson with a 284.5 pounder. But she also earned bragging rights as her pumpkin was judged prettiest and she also earned the rookie of the year award.
In the junior division, Coupeville resident Drake Borden won the division with a 186.5 pound pumpkin while the Naval Air Station Oak Harbor Youth Activity Center placed second with an 85.5-pound pumpkin.
In the giant zucchini contest, Peter Case-Smith earned the first place award for the second year with a 22-pound, 1-ounce zucchini.
The annual Harvest Fest took place Saturday in the field located behind the Coupeville Public Library. In addition to the giant pumpkin contest, there was also the harvest relays during the final Coupeville Farmers Market of the season. The market looks to have been a booming success this year, coming ahead of last year’s record-setting revenues.
Renninger said he grew several large pumpkins this year. One of his pumpkins is at Coupeville Elementary School where students are using it for a seed-counting contest.
The winning pumpkin is at Renninger’s Coupeville home. In the next couple off weeks, he is planning to transform it into a giant jack o’ lantern, which he hopes will remain through Thanksgiving.Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Nathan Whalen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5058.