There was no question that Sleeman native Kenny Trenchard was the big winner at the third-annual Rainy River Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival on Saturday, taking the $1,000 grand prize and the coveted “Golden Hoe” for his 456-pound entry.
“I’m not sure what I’ll do with it," Trenchard said after pocketing his prize money. "I’ll use some of it for producing better growing conditions next year.”
Trenchard also won the Rookie of the Year award, and took second in the ugliest pumpkin category.
Ironically, Trenchard’s prize-winning pumpkin was the second choice of the patch up until about two weeks ago, when another pumpkin on the same vine got a soft spot on its skin and collapsed.
“It probably weighed about 100 pounds more than this one,” he said, showing several photos of the decaying giant which measured close to 12 feet around.
“It wasn’t a good feeling when I saw that,” Trenchard remarked.
Max Lang, who brought his 417-pound pumpkin down from Vermilion Bay, was runner-up for the grand prize (winning $200) while Don Beyak and festival organizer Dr. Ewan Affleck teamed up for third (and $100) with a 342-pound entry.
The festival attracted 75 entries, almost double the number from last year. Attendance also high Saturday, with more than 400 people making their way to Hannam Park.
“We’re very happy," Dr. Affleck said. "[The entries] went up a lot in numbers and in weight.”
And there were more than just pumpkins. Tables at the harvest display were filled with large and odd-looking vegetables, plus there were children’s games and appearances by the festival’s mascot, “Max Citrouille.”
Dr. Affleck said he was a bit concerned about the weather at first, noting it looked like it would rain a few times during the day. But the sun stayed out and the festival stayed dry, with many people hanging around for the entire day.
“It’s a really fun festival,” noted Emo resident Stephanie Hawkins, who took first place in the pumpkin pie contest.
“It’s just hanging out, a sense of community,” Dr. Affleck added.
He said the pumpkin festival couldn’t have happened without volunteers and support from the business community. But while the fourth-annual effort is guaranteed for next year, Dr. Affleck noted it’s time for a break.
“I’m glad it’s done," he noted. "It’s been a lot of work but it was a lot of fun. We’ll just try to do it again next year.”
Here are other results from Saturday’s festival:
oBest decorated pumpkin—1. Lorie Kuzyk (Rainy River), 2. Andrew Hartnell (Rainy River), and 3. Jerome Bonhomme;
oHeaviest pumpkin grown by an elementary school student—1. Wade Mose (Emo) with a 281-pounder to win $50, and 2. Matthew Zupka (Minnesota) with a 236-pound one to win $25;
oPumpkin dessert contest—Stephanie Hawkins of Emo (best pie) and Carolyn Kreger of Bergland (best dessert);
oHandyman award—Marc Sharpe (Rainy River);
oMost attractive pumpkin—Grant Erickson (Minnesota);
oOddest vegetable—1. Cliff Windsor (Rainy River), and 2. John Vandenbrand (Stratton);
oBanzai award (smallest pumpkin)—Margaret Dube (Rainy River);
oLargest onion—Donna Wolanicki (Rainy River)
oDistance award—1. Mylie Gaudry (Iowa), and 2. Max Lang (Vermilion Bay);
oNeighbourly award—Don Beyak (Rainy River);
oUgliest pumpkin—1. Gordon and Anita Olson (Bergland), and 2. Kenny Trenchard (Sleeman); and
oHidden Weight Award (113 lb.)—Inge Szeder of Emo ($100).