Monster pumpkin wins fair and square

KELSEY FLETCHER
Last updated 12:00 24/03/2014
Giant pumpkin
GRANT MATTHEW/FAIRFAX NZ

VICTORIOUS VEGETABLE: Aaron Akkerman with his prize-winning pumping at the Marton Harvest Festival.

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Turakina Valley teen Aaron Akerman was a little disappointed his winning entry in the Marton Harvest Fair's giant pumpkin competition was just 10 kilograms short of half a tonne.

But the 15-year-old cheered up when told his vast vegetable would now be the new competition record-holder, beating his record from last year.

Aaron entered two pumpkins into the fair at Marton Park on Saturday, his winning 490kg monster and a slightly smaller - but nonetheless intimidating - 392kg beast.

"It's genetics, the seed came out of a 1522lbs [690 kgs] pumpkin I bought off the internet," he said.

"I added a couple of trailer loads of manure, and used seaweed and soil conditioner to help the plant take up the nutrients better."

Hundreds of people from all over the region browsed the 80 stalls and delights on offer, watched a live cooking demonstration by celebrity chef Jax Hamilton, and took part in the annual giant pumpkin growing, homebrew and scarecrow-making competitions. Aaron said it was no secret how his pumpkins grew to their enormous sizes - something that did make transport to the fair a challenge, though. "In early October I planted them inside then transferred them outside," he said. "Then [on Friday] we picked them and it only took an hour to load both of them - they got transported here on a sack by forklift and trailer."

Aaron said his giant pumpkins could be eaten but they didn't taste very sweet.

Competition organiser Andy Corser said entries were down this year but the calibre of pumpkins was up.

"Last year the winner was 201kg, so we've doubled the weight - we've got three above it," he said. "I've found it a hard season because normally I grow one. Everyone likes the competition, there's something quite nice about standing and gazing down on a giant vegetable."

The owner of the winning pumpkin was awarded a $400 prize and runner-up received $100.

Aaron's smaller pumpkin will go on display at the Crazy Pumpkin vegetable shop while his larger pumpkin could be blown up or fed to the cows. More photos from the fair: P5

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- Manawatu Standard

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