Giant Pumpkin Fest: A chat with the ’16 pumpkin champ | News – California News

Giant Pumpkin Fest: A chat with the ’16 pumpkin champ | News – California News

As fall officially begins on Sept. 22, Elk Grove’s autumn tradition is around the corner. The Cosumnes CSD’s annual Elk Grove Giant Pumpkin Festival will be held at Elk Grove Regional Park on Oct. 7-8.

This festival’s giant pumpkin contest attracts growers who compete for cash prizes and epic bragging rights.

The Citizen spoke with last year’s pumpkin champion, Russ Pugh of Santa Rosa who grew a 1,944-pounder. As his reward, he was paid $7 per pound for that pumpkin for a total of $13,611.50.

The winner of this year’s contest will receive the same prize, while many other cash prizes will be presented, including $2,500 for second place and $2,000 for third place.

Those entering giant pumpkins in the contest must adhere to certain rules, including that they must grow their entry from seed to harvest and enter the pumpkin in person.

Before weighing the pumpkin, judges search the entries for foreign materials, soft spots, cracks, and holes.

Pugh mentioned that his road to winning last year’s contest began about 15 years ago when he entered his first contest with a 129-pound pumpkin at the Sonoma County Fair.

Since it was his first contest, Pugh was not discouraged about losing to a man who won that contest with a pumpkin weighing about 900 pounds.

“The next year, I decided to do it again and thought, ‘I’m going to work at it really hard and I’m going to beat that old guy,’” he said.

But unfortunately for Pugh, his next pumpkin only weighed 130 pounds, while the same man had a 954-pound pumpkin.

In figuring that the…

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