By Jesse Eastman
owner of Fort Collins Nursery
Here at Fort Collins Nursery we are gearing up for our annual Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off & Fall Jamboree. This event, now in its eleventh year, has a long history based on having fun. For years we’ve had some sort of pumpkin contest that has included categories from tallest sunflower to longest zucchini and more. We narrowed our focus in on exclusively pumpkins in 2008 because they were always the most popular category among spectators, and there is an incredibly fun competitive culture surrounding giant pumpkins that we knew we wanted to be a part of.
We ran our own independent pumpkin contest for several years, but we weren’t seeing the kind of newsworthy monstrous pumpkins we were hoping for. We knew it was time to get serious. In 2015, we joined the Giant Pumpkin Commonwealth, a national organization that sanctions weigh-offs and sets guidelines for all the major pumpkin competitions in the United States. We also increased the cash prize substantially because big prizes attract top-tier competitors. These moves paid off – we went from a 794 pound winner in 2014 to a 1,306 pound winner in 2015, and they keep getting bigger each year!
Our current Fort Collins Nursery record is a 1,568 pound monster from 2018 that won a $1500 grand prize. We are hopeful we will see that record demolished this year at our 2019 Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off & Fall Jamboree on October 12, 2019, where over $4,000 in cash is up for grabs to growers from the entire Rocky Mountain region, including $1800 to First Place.
On top of the absolutely crazy spectacle of these massive pumpkins, we’ve got a wide variety of family-friendly activities to keep everyone entertained throughout the day. Last year’s introduction of hay rides was wildly popular, offering families the chance to tour our beautiful grounds and see some spooky sights along the way. Kids can get their faces painted and try to win prizes at the pumpkin bowling alley. For the older kids (21+), The Growing Project will have a beer tent set up to raise money in support of their mission to promote an environmentally and socially just local food system through direct agricultural experiences, education, economic opportunities, and advocacy.
Hope to see everyone there!