Pumpkin enthusiasts from all corners of the country are set to descend upon Irish Military War Museum, Starinagh, Collon, Co. Meath on Sunday 8th October 2017.
The crowning of the grower of Ireland’s biggest pumpkin fruit is set to take centre stage.
Micheál Byrne and Patrick Sullivan have once again organised the Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off, now in its second year and have encourage fellow enthusiasts to join the proceedings.
“This event appeals to all age-groups, from toddlers to adults. Who doesn’t like to get their picture taken with a huge orange pumpkin?” Micheál Byrne told That’s Farming.
Novice and experienced growers with fruits of over 600lbs are expected to enter the competition.
Interest has been expressed by those in Wicklow and Clare with the event also expected to gain traction from local growers from the counties of Meath and Louth.
The contest is set to kick-off at 11:00 am, with two separate categories.
The first will see competitors battle it off in the Cucurbita maxima aka Atlantic Giants competition.
Next up, all eyes will be fixed securely on the Cucurbita pepo (Field pumpkins) competition.
“They can be weighed at our Great Pumpkin Commonwealth (GPC) sanctioned weigh-off. The GPC is the world authority on giant vegetable records and are the reporting body to Guinness World Records for these matters.” Micheál explained.
Competitors will be eligible for the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth prize fund of $1000 and $10,000 for a world record, and an all-expenses paid trip to New-York City.
The prize fund has been kindly sponsored by Noelle Douglas of Douglas Nurseries.
Douglas Nurseries is renowned for supplying the people of Ardee and Mid-Louth with quality horticulture stock and sundries since its inception in 1914.
Prizes Field Pumpkins: Douglas Nurseries Sponsor
- 1st- €50,
- 3rd- €10.
‘‘Competitors are encouraged to familiarise themselves with GPC rules. All competitors will receive a certificate of achievement including their official weight on the day. We'll also have more seeds available for next year.’’ Micheál added.
The event follows hot on the heels of last year, when the heaviest three fruits weighed over a whopping 900lbs.
“As with last year we expect records to fall considering the amicable summer weather.” Micheál said.
The organisers believes that the weigh-off gives people an opportunity to kick-start the Halloween period at the IMWM where weigh-off itself will occur, along with a spooky tour of the museum and trick or treat trail.
“Those interested in growing these giants will get the chance to talk “pumpkin” first hand with experienced growers and gain some vital tips as we now look to break the 1,500lb barrier.” Micheál said.
A passion for pumpkins
Micheál is one of the event organisers and most certainly is no stranger to the Horticultural world.
‘‘I began growing pumpkins as a child for the family get together at Halloween. With Grandad involved in the horticultural trade, he decided to have a competition amongst us to see who could grow the biggest pumpkin.’’ Micheál explained.
It wasn’t long before Micheál got to grips and sourced hybrid seeds.
His new passion continued to sky-rocket to success and fruit in excess of 200lbs was grown.
He hasn’t looked back since and is renowned on a national stage for growing giant pumpkins.
He broke the previous Irish record of 724lbs held by Ed Molloy from Granard, Longford back in 2009. Last year his own record toppled when Micheál finished first and brought a fruit weighing 530kg (1166lbs) to the scale.
He also grew a 469kg fruit last year which fetched second prize at last year’s event.
He has even garnered the attention of Tesco stores and is one of their stockists.
‘‘It really is addictive.’’ Micheál explained.
Micheál completed his B.Agr.Sc from UCD in 2015 and is currently finishing a Masters in Crop Science at UCD under Prof Jimmy Burke.
His has intentions to pursue a PhD in Crop Science later this year.
People entering a fruit in the competition should let the organisers know via email of their intention to bring fruit to the event (Logistics) via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Refreshments are available in the museum where self-service and guided tours are available.
A children’s playground and bouncy castle/ obstacle course will be open to all.
On the day, tank lessons may be limited due to the number of requests.
A grower’s seminar is earmarked for spring time of 2018.