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Annual giant pumpkin festival taking shape

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The organizing committee of the sixth-annual Rainy River Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival, Northwestern Ontario’s pre-eminent pumpkin festival, is now planning the 2000 weigh-off.

The festival again proved to be very popular in 1999, attracting many people from as far away as Thunder Bay to Hannam Park in Rainy River, where 65 pumpkins were entered in the weight category.

The largest pumpkin was grown by Don Cronk of Thunder Bay (554 pounds).

Again this year, any and all pumpkin growers are encouraged to enter the contest, which is to be held the final Saturday of September at Hannam Park. And again, $1,000 will be awarded to the grower of the heaviest pumpkin.

Many other prizes will be handed out in categories ranging from the most ugly pumpkin to overall oddest vegetable.

In addition, all the municipalities in Northwestern Ontario are invited to enter a pumpkin from their jurisdiction to see which regional municipality can grow the biggest pumpkin.

This would be akin to a municipal pumpkin “Olympics.”

This contest would be open to all municipalities that fall under the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA), and serve to bring communities in the region together in a spirit of fun and comradeship.

It is very easy for municipalities to participate. Simply ensure one or more growers whose pumpkin patches lie within your municipalities are represented at the festival.

A group of growers could even represent each municipality.

This would be akin to selecting a pumpkin Olympic team to represent your municipality. Finding growers should not be difficult as many people already are growing giant pumpkins throughout the region.

Giant pumpkin seeds (Atlantic Giant Hybrid) can be obtained from organizers for distribution in your area, or from most reputable seedhouses.

This contest is intended to promote a sense of community in the region and highlight the importance of horticulture in our rural setting. As with everything undertaken by the Rainy River Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival, the emphasis of this contest is on fun and friendly competition.

The Rainy River Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival is a strictly non-profit organization. It relies on the support of local businesses and interest groups to finance its operations.

If you are interested in participating, or have any suggestions or help to offer, we would love to hear from you.

For more information, contact Eltjo Wiersema at Rainy River Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival, P.O. Box 87, Rainy River, Ont., P0W 1L0 (1-807-852-4405).

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